New Zealand Olympian Shane Reed has died of brain cancer ©Getty Images

Shane Reed, who represented New Zealand in the triathlon at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, has died at the age of 49 after suffering from brain cancer, which he had been diagnosed with six months ago.

World Triathlon published a video tribute to Reed, saying it "would like to express its deepest sadness for the loss of NZL Olympian Shane Reed and would like to pay tribute, honouring the exceptional role model that he will be remembered as."

Reed had the unique distinction at Beijing 2008 of competing against his younger brother, Matt, who was representing the United States.

Shane Reed led the field out of the water and pushed hard on the bike leg in a race where his Kiwi team-mate Bevan Docherty earned a bronze medal.

Reed eventually finished 34th.

He competed in a total of 112 events on the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Cup circuit, winning nine times and finishing on the podium in 20 races.

Reed enjoyed particular success in the World Triathlon Aquathlon Championships, an event featuring a 2.5 kilometres run followed by a 1.5km swim and another 2.5km run.

He won the first two editions of the event, in 1998 and 1999, both held in Noosa in Australia, and then again at Madeira in Portugal in 2004.

In a further statement, World Triathlon, the rebranded ITU, said: "This devastating news has shattered the Triathlon and Multisport community.

"Shane, a quiet achiever, has had multiple sporting achievements to his name over the years including representing New Zealand at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, claiming many ITU World Cup medals and earning three World Aquathlon titles.

"World Triathlon offers condolences and support to Shane's family, friends and teammates..."

Reed was born in Palmerston North in New Zealand but moved to Australia with his family when he was eight.

Early in his career, Reed based himself on Queensland's Gold Coast and spent several years trying to make the Australian triathlon team.

He switched allegiance to New Zealand in 1998.

Reed married Tammy Kendall, a fellow triathlete from New Plymouth, in October 2005, and they remained married until his death last Sunday (October 30).

They had two children.