Alex Zanardi wins gold at Paralympics

Perhaps you can chalk it up to track knowledge. Whatever the case, former Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi today won gold in paracyling. The race happened at Brands Hatch.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Zanardi said, according to ESPN. “I’m really, really happy for the result.”

Zanardi finished the race in 24:55.2.

The ESPN story details Zanardi’s crash and efforts after. It’s a good read. Here’s a bit:

At the hospital, Zanardi’s wife, Daniela, told him he had lost his legs. But that was only part of the problem. He had been in a coma for three days, his heart had stopped at least once, and he was alive only because of the medical response to his injuries.

Much work for his recovery lay ahead.

NASCAR driver Max Papis, who has known Zanardi since they were kids in Italy, recalled visiting his friend in the hospital, where Zanardi glanced at Papis’ new shoes.

“He said to ‘Look at the positive side of this. For a long time I will not have to spend money buying those,’ ” Papis said.

Pushing the limits, he began to walk again only months after the accident. Always tinkering, Zanardi used technology and his experience from working with elite race cars to forge a new life — to adapt to his new circumstances, to learn how to use prosthetic legs.

“You don’t know how many times I fell just taking ridiculous small steps,” he told the BBC. “It was bloody hard.”

And the story describes Zanardi’s celebration:

Zanardi celebrated by sliding out of his cycle and lifting it over his head with one hand and raising his other arm, fist clenched, to the sky.

It was unusual. It was on purpose.

“I’m Alex Zanardi,” he said with a huge grin, his Italian accent dragging each syllable. “I always have to come up with something. I have a little bit of a big head.”

F1B congratulations to Zanardi, whose story is one to inspire us all.

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