Photo: Mauro Pimentel
Alessandro Zanardi, here photographed in 2016, after winning a silver medal at the Paralympic Games.
Alessandro Zanardi, the former F1 driver with both legs amputated after an accident, and then quadruple gold medalist at the Paralympic Games, was seriously injured Friday, on his hand-cycle bike, during a race (ffh) in Italy.
His condition is extremely serious, ” said Dr. Francesco Bova, chief of the Emergency department of the hospital Le Scotte, Siena, where Zanardi had been transported by helicopter after his accident.
“Because of the severity of his head injury, the neurosurgery and maxillo-facial surgery began shortly after 19: 00 and ended a little before 22: 00 “, then said the hospital, in a press release. “The patient was transferred to intensive care, the prognosis is reserved. His condition is very serious, ” confirmed the hospital.
Zanardi, 53 years old, was part of a stage of the relay Lens Tricolor “, in Tuscany, when he “lost control” of his bike in hand, ” has two barrels then smashed into a truck. The collision was terrible, ” said Mario Valentini, head coach of the Italy team of cycling handisport, the Italian daily Corriere della sera.
A true flag-bearer of the disabled sports in the world, Zanardi is “a real fighter who inspires a lot of people,” responded one of his former teams, Williams F1. “He has already had his share of bad luck, he has always managed to transcend, thanks to its determination,” added Martin Brundle, the former F1 driver become a consultant.
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“I am very worried, I hold my breath, I ask you to do like me and pray for him. I am one of his fans, and I am his friend, ” responded on Twitter the American Mario Andretti, former F1 world champion.
Zanardi competed in 41 Grand Prix of Formula 1 between 1991 and 1999, with as best result a 6th place in the Brazilian GP in 1993, in a Lotus. Most importantly, it has been a two-time champion Indycar racing in the United States (1997, 1998), at the time when this series was called CART, then Champ Cars.
Following a big accident in 2001 on the trail of the German Lausitzring, 320 km/h, Zanardi had been amputated of both legs. He then took the wheel in touring cars (WTCC) and GT, and then was converted into the disabled sports with great success : four gold medals and two silver medals at the Paralympic Games of 2012 and 2016, added to the ten world titles, all won on a bike to hand.
“I set a goal, to live a normal life,” said Zanardi after his accident in 2001. “Today, I can walk, swim, ski,” he added a few years later. He even participated in the famous Ironman triathlon for the more hard of the world, in 2014 to Hawaii, and has set a new world record last September for a triathlon paralympic : 8 hours, 25 minutes and 30 seconds.