Alex Zanardi wins Paralympic gold
Ex-Formula 1 and Indy racing star Alex Zanardi has won gold at the Paralympics.
The Italian beat Germany’s Nobert Mosandl by more than 27 seconds at the iconic Brands Hatch motor racing circuit in the 16-kilometre H4 handcycling time trial.
The 45-year-old, who lost both legs in a near-fatal crash in 2001 during a Champ Car race at Germany’s Lausitzring, set the winning time of 24 minutes, 50.22 seconds.
“This is a great accomplishment, one of the greatest of my life,” said Zanardi.
“I worked very hard to get here. It was great to live such an experience at 45. This moment also brings a little bit of sadness for an adventure the last two years.
“Three years ago I stopped motor racing, at age 42. It seemed a stupid thing to do to drop everything. It was against all odds. But it’s not the first crazy thing I did in life. In the end I was right. You should not chase pipedreams but, if you have a horizon to look into, happiness is just around the corner.”
“When you are 20, you appreciate medals. When you are 40, you appreciate what you do every day.
“I enjoyed every day of training. I’ve had a magical adventure and this is a fantastic conclusion.”
It is the third time Zanardi has been on the podium at the Kent circuit, each time in very different circumstances.
In 1991, as a 24-year-old with his sights trained on Formula 1, he secured second place in a Formula 3000 race. After losing his legs, he returned in 2008 to take third place in a specially adapted car as part of an Italian-Spanish team that finished third in the World Touring Car Championship.
The undulating nature of the Brands Hatch circuit worked in Zanardi’s favour, with uphill sections favouring double amputees such as himself.
In sunny but windy conditions he duly built a lead of 14 seconds over Mosandl after the first of the two laps and, in a perfectly paced race, had almost doubled that margin as he crossed the finish line.