Alex Zanardi wins Paralympics 2012 handcycling gold at Brands Hatch

Alex Zanardi wins Paralympics 2012 handcycling gold at Brands Hatch

05.09.2012: ALL HANDCYCLING RESULTS HERE Motor racing star Alex Zanardi lifted his bike in one hand in celebration of his first Brands


Motor racing star Alex Zanardi lifted his bike in one hand in celebration of his first Brands Hatch victory as the Italian became a Paralympic Games Road Cycling champion today. (5.9.2012)

Alessandro Zanardi of Italy competes in the men's Individual H4 Time Trial on Day 7 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Brands Hatch.

The 45-year-old Italian made 45 appearances in Formula One following his debut in 1993 and competed at Brands Hatch when racing in F3000 early in his career, placing second, and then in the World Touring Car Championship later, placing third.

His more recent appearances in Kent came after he was injured in the American Memorial 500 Cart event in Germany in September 2001. A 200mph accident saw him lose both his legs.

As well as competing in top-level motorsport since his accident, Zanardi has also made a successful transition to hand-cycling, culminating in his London 2012 Games triumph today. He won the men's Individual H4 Time Trial before lifting his bike above his head in celebration of a success that included the promise of a ride in one of motorsport's most famous events.

He said:
'I'm Alex Zanardi, I always have to come up with something at the end of a race - I have a bit of a big head. 'My great friend Jimmy Vasser called me last night and said if you win a gold medal I'm going to put you in a car for the Indy 500, so I will have to call him back tonight.  I only collected a second place, a third-placed finish (at Brands Hatch) and to win I had to come back with a hand-cycle. It's an amazing feeling.

'I'm really, really happy for the result and I knew that this moment was going to bring a little bit of sadness as well. This is almost the last day of a great adventure and from Monday I will have to find something different, otherwise life will become a little boring. It's at the top of the scale with many other great moments I've been lucky enough to live.'

Zanardi clocked 24:50 but had to watch his rivals finish before being certain of gold ahead of Germany's Norbert Mosandl (25:17) and Oscar Sanchez of the USA (25:35).

'That was the toughest moment; it was very hard to wait,' Zanardi added. I was a little bit emotional, because the prize was very high. I knew I could only do my best and I had to be happy.' Zanardi played down his personal feat. 'Anybody can be an inspiration for each other,' he added.

- London 2012  photo Getty Images


05.09.2012 / MaP

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