#70SportWays (62): Alex Zanardi, more than an athlete
It is difficult to describe Alex Zanardi with only one article. He is more than a single athlete: he is a strong person with an iron will and a true champion attitude. He won the CART championship in 1997 and 1998 in North America. He also had a career as a Formula One driver. In his most competitive race of 2001, the 2001 American Memorial, he suffered a violent accident at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz on 15 September. Zanardi lost both his legs in the impact and nearly three-quarters of his blood volume, though rapid medical intervention saved his life.
After the carsh, Zanardi was fitted with two prosthetic limbs and began an ambitious rehabilitation program. Dissatisfied with the limitations of legs available commercially, Zanardi designed and built his own custom legs, to allow him to compare the weight and stiffness of various feet in order to find the ones most suitable for racing. In 2002, CART honoured Zanardi by giving him the privilege of waving the checkered flag in Toronto, Canada. In 2003, Zanardi was racing again, with the aid of hand-operated brake and accelerator controls and he had the opportunity to come back in Formula One in a test drive for BMW Sauber.
After the injuries sustained from the accident Zanardi decided to return to sport, taking up handcycling. In 2007 he achieved 4th place in the New York City Marathon in the handcycle division, after only four weeks of training. In September 2011, Zanardi won his first senior international handcycling medal, the silver medal in the H4 category time trial at the UCI World Road Para-Cycling Championships. In September 2012 he won gold medals at the London Paralympics in the individual H4 time trial and the individual H4 road race, followed by a silver medal in the mixed H1-4 team relay, and in September 2016 he won a gold and a silver medal at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. To sum up, Alex Zanardi is a person who has never understood what quitting is. And this is his strenght.