Zanardi wins third Paralympic gold
Former Formula One driver Alex Zanardi won his third Paralympic gold medal on Wednesday, a day before the 15th anniversary of the Champ Car crash that cost the Italian both legs and nearly his life.
Rio de Janeiro: Former Formula One driver Alex Zanardi won his third Paralympic gold medal on Wednesday, a day before the 15th anniversary of the Champ Car crash that cost the Italian both legs and nearly his life.
The 49-year-old Zanardi won the 20-kilometre H5 hand cycling road time trial in Rio de Janeiro via a time of 28 minutes and 36.81 seconds to add to the two golds he won on his Paralympics debut in London four years ago.
Australia's Stuart Tripp claimed the silver medal in Rio in 28:39.55. “Normally I don’t thank God for these types of things as I believe God has more important stuff to worry about,” he said.
“But today is too much. I had to raise my eyes and thank him.” “I feel very lucky, I feel my life is a never-ending privilege.” Zanardi, a two times champion in the US-based Champ Car series that is now Indy Car, competed in 41 Grand Prix between 1991 and 1999 with his final season at Williams.
He had both legs amputated above the knee, with his heart stopping seven times as he lost all but a litre of the blood in his body, after the horrific crash at the Lausitzring in Germany on September 15, 2001.
The Italian was leading the race when he lost control of his Reynard-Honda in the final laps and Canadian Alex Tagliani ran into him at more than 350kph.“The car broke into two pieces, one bit of me stayed with the car and the other bit, which was my legs, went ‘arrivederci’ in the other direction,” he said before competing at the London 2012 Games.
Zanardi, who had been read the last rites, returned to racing a year and a half after the accident and competed in the world touring car championship until 2009, by which time he had taken up hand-cycling. Two years after the accident, he returned to the Lausitzring and finished the 13 laps that he had failed to complete during the race.