Yesterday marked the 15th anniversary of the tragic accident that took Alex Zanardi’s legs on the track at the Lausitzring. However, the living legend decided to honor that the only way he knows how and that’s by winning yet another medal at the Rio Paralympics. After winning gold in Wednesday’s time trial, the 49-year old athlete secured silver in the hand bike H5 category on Thursday.
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Some people might be tempted to give up after the sort of accident Alex had, but the Italian has shown so much character and ambition over the years, it’s hard to imagine him anywhere else at this moment. Over the last 15 years he successfully competed in a variety of motorsport events while also winning a total of five Paralympic medals (three gold and two silver) and eight world championship titles in para-cycling.
“First of all I want to congratulate Ernst van Dyk for winning a great gold medal. He showed all his qualities as a sprinter, and today he was probably stronger than me. Nevertheless, to have won the silver medal is fantastic for me,” Zanardi said. He also went on to explain that his mindset wasn’t in the right place during the race but he managed to win the silver medal nonetheless.
“It was a difficult race. Let me explain: Sometimes you cannot control your emotions and yesterday, when I realized that I had won gold, I was very proud but psychologically I simply collapsed. All the pressure I had put myself under, but that I tried to ignore all the time, fell off my shoulders. So this morning I was not in the racing mood that normally pushes you, that makes you forget that you have less sleep and that helps that you don’t feel the pain in the muscles. So the day did not start in the way I was hoping. I felt empty in the beginning and it was a tiring race for me. But, despite this, I still managed to do a very good job – and I am very proud of it. To bring home my silver medal under these circumstances is a great and fantastic achievement. So I am happy,” Zanardi added.
The third and final competition for Zanardi at Rio will be the team relay with the Italian national team today, Friday, 16th September. His mission: to bring home another gold medal.