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Zanardi takes relay silver at London Paralympics

Alex Zanardi completed his London 2012 Paralympic Games with a third medal in the handbike category.

Alex Zanardi was denied a fully golden Paralympic Games after his Italian team was beaten to the H4 Mixed Relay title by a strong American line-up.

Nevertheless, the former F1, Champ Car and WTCC star added a third medal to the golds he took in the individual time trial and road race events earlier in the week as he played a pivotal role in keeping the Italians in second spot. Partnering Francesca Fenocchio and Vittorio Podesta, Zanardi's team was able to resist a strong Swiss challenge to claim silver by eight seconds on the road course around the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.

"Once again, I am speechless," Zanardi admitted to journalists, "When you achieve something on your own, it is great, but winning as a team is even better! Obviously, we raced in different ways, because we are athletes in different categories mixed in a random way, but I think this is the spice of the event. Every one of us took every ounce of power from our muscles and, for us, [the result] is spectacular."

The 45-year old, who has been linked to a possible assault on next year's Indianapolis 500, conceded that, despite the Paralympic Games having been his goal for the past five years, he was not about to retire to a quiet life in Italy.

"It is perfectly fine for me to go back to normal life, take my son to school, things like that," he smiled, "but if, along the way, there will be a chance to light some more firecrackers, I won't hold myself back. It would be a shame to miss opportunities...."

Asked whether he would consider continuing his Paralympic adventure all the way to Brazil in 2016, Zanardi refused to rule the possibility out completely.

"Maybe there will also be time for Rio but, just to make sure, I put it all on this," he said of his efforts in London 2012.

Zanardi's achievements have not gone unnoticed amongst his peers in the motorsport world, with drivers who did not have the chance to compete with him on track also adding their congratulations.

"I just want to pass on my best wishes and congratulations to my friend Alex Zanardi," Lewis Hamilton commented after setting pole position for the Italian's home race at Monza, "Alex is not only one of the most courageous men I know, but he's also one of the nicest, and his gold medal successes at the Paralympics over the past few days have been incredibly inspiring."

There have been calls for F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone to arrange a private jet to fly Zanardi back to Italy for the podium ceremony after Sunday's grand prix, such has been the admiration for his determination in overcoming the dreadful injuries he suffered at the Lausitzring in 2001.

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September 09, 2012 10:43 AM

We should all salute this man for the way he challenges himself. Apparently he will be in the Monza paddock today. Sky Sports should drop the pseudo-celebrity chasing before the race and take him on the grid walk. A lesson in heroism and humility in the same person.


September 09, 2012 12:18 PM

I thought there was also a hand-cycling marathon? I guess not. Too many people are classed as inspirational after doing nothing very special. But Alex trully is an inspirational man as are many at the Paralympics, hats off to you. And nice of Lulu to show his respect, good call.

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