Italian hero wins further praise for paralympic efforts
Even against some equally deserving fellow nominees Alex Zanardi was a clear favourite in the PH Awards for hero of the year. The comments from PHers say it all: "Zanardi - it's easy to be a hero when everything is going your way. It's not when you've been dealt a bad hand. A truly inspirational man," said PHer V8RX7 in one typical post on the thread that followed the nomination. "To get an Olympic gold medal in something so separated from what was previously his field of expertise takes an enormous mountain of grit and a big belly full of fire," agreed Papa Hotel - just two of many posts backing Zanardi in the four-page thread.
A humbling lesson in triumph over adversity
It's not just PHers either. Zanardi's efforts have earned him further recognition too, the International Paralympic Committee awarding his two golds and one silver in the H4 handcycle events the accolade of number one moment in the 2012 Paralympic Games. In a games arguably even more emotionally charged than the Olympics, for Zanardi to be singled out among many heart rending moments perhaps underlines his inspirational approach to dealing with life-changing injuries.
Indeed, it was the choice of Brands Hatch as the venue for the handcycle events that inspired Zanardi to compete, having also raced here in his driving career and scored podiums in Formula 3000 and World Touring Cars. "Motorsport should be my speciality, not so much handcycling," he says in a press release from Brands Hatch, "but when they announced that the handcycling was going to take place at Brands Hatch it was one of the crucial things that emotionally made me think 'yeah this is my place'. In reality you know that the tarmac you're covering is the same for every one of us but it felt certainly more special."
Anyone doubting Zanardi's inspirational qualities and humility need only read further though. "When in 2001 I had the great accident, at that point it certainly didn't seem to be one of the greatest opportunities of my life," he says, with considerable understatement. "But looking back over the last 11 years, I have to say that my accident has become one of the greatest opportunities of my life. It's at the top of the scale with many other great moments I've been lucky enough to live."
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