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Unread 11-07-2011, 04:59 PM #1
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Thumbs up Zanardi Still Winning

I didn't know Alex Zanardi was doing this, very cool IMHO.

Hard to believe it's been 10 years since he lost his legs.

Zanardi wins Handcycle class at New York Marathon (gpupdate.net)
Quote:
7 November 2011
Click the image to open in full size.

Alex Zanardi has added another sporting accolade to his already long list of achievements by winning the Handcycle class at the New York Marathon.

Ahead of 92 other participants in the Handcycle category, involving hand-operated tricycles, Zanardi narrowly won from Poland’s Rafal Wilk after a tightly-contested one hour, 13 minutes and 58 seconds.

“My mission for this season was to accumulate points to qualify for the Paralympic Games of London 2012,” the 45-year-old Italian explains on his website.

The former double CART Champion lost both legs in an horrific accident at Germany’s Lausitzring in September 2001, amazingly recovering and having since won four World Touring Car races with the help of hand controls.

Zanardi spent two separate stints in Formula 1, first with Jordan, Minardi and Lotus between 1991 and 1994 before returning for a sole season with Williams in 1999.
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Unread 11-07-2011, 05:22 PM #2
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He is a brave man & one of my all time hero's. Way to go Alex!!!

Thanks for posting this Steve...
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Unread 11-07-2011, 07:05 PM #3
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You're not the only one, here's Paul Tracy's post-marathon tweet:
"Alex zanardi is the stud of all studs !!!! All I can say is wow !!!"
Don't know who this one is from:
"I interviewed Alex on Friday for one of his sponsors. I was impressed by this incredible human being: he is so humble and available to his fans. Some Italian runners recognized him after my interview and asked for a photo and he immediately made his way to them.
He mentioned that last year he was in the lead at the NY marathon but had to retire for a technical issue with his handcycle. He added that this year he had built a 'tank' for the marathon, and that he had high hopes. I am really happy for his win.
When Alex joined Indy he made history with his spectacular pass at Laguna, and then with his doughnuts at the finish line. After that horrible accident anyone would have given up fighting, but he has shown that a winning attitude can help overcome any obstacles. I wish him and his family all the best."
Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

I love this older pic:
Click the image to open in full size.
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Unread 11-07-2011, 09:28 PM #4
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What a man and truly an inspiration, Congrats Alex!!!

...and please, someone hit me across the head, neck and shoulders if I'm ever heard complaining that I can't do something....
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Unread 11-08-2011, 12:44 PM #5
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Here's Alex's post-marathon blog post:

Quote:
My Heart is Stars and Stripes (alex-zanardi.com)

Hi everyone,

I just returned from States and I am very happy!

First of all I have to explain you one thing: on Sunday 23 October I lived an unforgettable experience with Francesco Canali at the Venice Marathon, the nicest birthday gift I could do to myself.

Unfortunately, once crossed the finish line I was told the terrible news of Marco Simoncelli passing away and honestly I lost all the enthusiasm to tell you this memorable experience in the way it deserved; I will do this in the right time, I promise but today it is not that moment yet.

Something else happened last weekend that I want to talk about: the New York Marathon.

I travelled to States with my family and a bunch of my dearest and nicest friends of mine to make the travel nicer.

We had a lot of fun and, despite a very tight schedule, we managed to do all the things that have to be done in the "Big Apple". A visit to the Liberty Statue and Rockfeller Center, shopping in Times Square, a trip to Central Park. And so on so forth I would add, as in a simple walk about in New York is a special moment, especially if you can share it with people you love and you are well with.

Well, what to say if before coming back home you manage to win a marathon... "the Marathon" in front of your friends and of thousands of people packed around the course?

This is how things went, I won the race I cared a lot about, I won the New York Marathon!

It has not been a walk in the park though. On Friday, when I got my number I also had a look at the entry list and it immediately seemed to be an "easy" one.

In reality, despite the absence of some strong athletes that usually run the race, I did not see the name of Dane Pilon, a strong American athlete on my same category that already won this marathon twice. I realized I had not seen Rafal Wilk's name either, an athlete that is not as strong as Pilon in sprints but that on the distance would have not been an easy one.
That's what I discovered on Sunday.

No worries: in a particularly lucky edition weather-wise, the sun and temperature were excellent and I started the race pushing but in a controlled way.

The start was up-hill: on Verrazzano bridge the course was climbing for more than two kilometers with a slope ranging from 4 to 6%. I set my pace finding myself in front.

As foreseeable, three of us were left on top of the bridge, the three main contenders.

Without pushing too hard in descents and climbing up again on ascending plateaux (the slope of the course is never constant) I warmed the "car" up as best as I could and I admit that I tested several time the resistance of my rivals using nearly all my resources.

I tried to do this on the ascending bits of overpasses, on bridges like the "Pulaski" bridge , that marks half way or on the "Queensboro" taking down to the First avenue.

No way, without excessive efforts I would have not managed to get to Central park alone and therefore I decided to stay put and to control the race waiting for the final sprint.

This is how it went, if I had given everything I would have probably paid the toll of the recent un-constant work when I could not train as I wanted due to the thousand commitments.

However, the sprint is one of the things I do better and reaching the finish line relatively fresh I could have probably played my best cards.

Drama hit while getting to Central Park from Columbus Circle at less than 700 meters to the finish line... on the access ramp a bump made my chain getting off the gear!

Fortunately, Dane Pilon that was following me realized this just a little bit too late.
When he sprinted to take advantage of this I already had managed to put the chain back at its right place and sprinting in turn I got back on to him.

It was still too early for the final sprint and he eased down to check my intentions.

From a certain view-point, this little contingency turned out to be a resource: thanks to this random event we found each other side by side and he could not place himself in my slipstream that was already occupied by the Polish Wilk...

We kept on going studying each other until the sign of the 26th mile, and despite being a bit early he sprinted. I kept close to him, then at 200yards from the line (about 180 meters) I pushed hard overtaking him strongly.

When I knew I was at the finish line we passed over some plastic cable bearers that were quite high that were probably serving the chrono system and behind myself I heard a odd noise!

Pilon must have touched one of these protections with the handles and left the control on his handbike hitting the barriers.

Obviously I am sorry for this and now that I am writing I am unaware of his conditions; hopefully he did just ended up with a few bruises and a race that did not finish in the way he hoped for.

Things went well for me instead and I am really happy for the result, for triumphing in a country that gave me a lot and that did not forget what I have done in the past at a sportive level, judging from how many times my name was shouted from people along the course: this really warms my heart.

Now I switch my mind to the role of TV presenter, or "moderator" that I believe describing my role more appropriately.

This week I will be busy with the exceptional team of "What if tomorrow" to record the first episode that will be broadcast next Saturday 12 at 21.30 GMT+2 on Italian RAI 3... do follow me... I will wait for you!

Ciaooooooo
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Unread 11-09-2011, 12:24 AM #6
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Saw this over on Jalopnik.

How ex-racing champ Alex Zanardi won the New York City Marathon without legs

He finished in 1:13:58!! Are you freaking kidding me.... 26.2 miles in just over a 1 hour. Peddling with your hands.

Oh, and by the way. The fastest male runner finished in 2:05:05.
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Unread 11-09-2011, 06:04 PM #7
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Alex is fast in what ever he drives...
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Unread 04-30-2012, 09:36 PM #8
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Cool article on Zanardi + video. What a guy!

Motor Authority says "Next time you're having a bad day, stop and think about Alex Zanardi."

Video: Alex Zanardi Takes To A New Form Of Racing (MotorAuthority.com)
Quote:
by Kurt Ernst | Apr 30, 2012

If you’re a new fan of motor racing, chances are good the name Alex Zanardi means nothing to you. While the Italian driver spent five seasons in Formula One (1991-94, 1999), his greatest success behind the wheel came in the American CART open-wheel series, where Zanardi raced from 1996-98, than again in 2001.

In 1996, Zanardi finished third in championship points, driving for Target Ganassi Racing. The next two years would see him take the CART championship back-to-back, before being lured back into the world of Formula One by Williams.

His 1999 Formula One season was dismal, and Zanardi’s best showing was a seventh place at the Italian Grand Prix. Out of 16 races, Zanardi suffered 10 DNFs, and failed to score a single championship point. For the 2000 season, his seat was given to Jenson Button.

By 2001, Zanardi was eager to return to open-wheel competition, signing with Mo Nunn Racing in the CART series. Overall, the season looked to be a mixed bag, with finishes as high as fourth and as low as 26th. Then came the race at Germany’s Lausitzring, where Zanardi had the lead with just 13 laps remaining.

Exiting the pits after a late-race pit stop, something went tragically wrong. Zanardi’s car swerved out of pit lane, traveling up the track perpendicular to traffic. At nearly 200 miles per hour, Alex Tagliani had no chance of avoiding Zanardi’s car; the resulting impact split Zanardi’s car in half and severed both of the Italian driver’s legs.

Although medical help was there in seconds, Zanardi lost nearly three-quarters of his blood volume in the aftermath of the crash. His survival was a miracle, but it’s his ongoing recovery that may be the most inspirational of all.

When Zanardi awoke to find both legs gone, one above and one below the knee, the story goes that he shrugged it off with a “Yes, but I still have my wife and son.”

In 2002, CART equipped a car with hand controls so that Zanardi could complete his final 13 laps at the Lausitzring; he did so at speeds that would have put him fifth in qualifying for the 2002 race.

In the years since, Zanardi has raced in Touring Car competition, but may have found his next calling the sport of paracycling. In 2007, after just a month of training, Zanardi finished fourth in the New York City Marathon’s hand cycle class. In 2009, he took first place at the Venice Marathon, followed by another win in Rome the following year.

Last year, Zanardi won the hand cycle class at the New York City Marathon, so for 2012 he’s on to bigger and better things: Zanardi will ride for the Italian team at this year’s London Paralympic Games.

We wish Zanardi the best of luck in competition, and hope that his story continues to be an inspiration for fans around the world.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 11:47 AM #9
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Today he won the gold medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games. Here he is after the win:

Click the image to open in full size.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 01:55 PM #10
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This Race Car Driver Went From Near Death To Paralympic Gold (Jalopnik.com)
Quote:
by Travis Okulski | Sep 5, 2012 12:30 PM

Click the image to open in full size.

Just after September 11, 2001, the CART racing series held what was pretty much the first international sporting event after the terrorist attacks at the Lausitzring Circuit in Germany. But instead of signaling some sort of return to normalcy, it ended in a horrific accident involving 1997/1998 series champion Alex Zanardi.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in the crash and nearly died. But he somehow didn't let that get him down. And now, 11 years later, he's a different sort of champion. Zanardi just won gold in handcycling at the Paralympic Games.

After that crash, it was touch and go for quite a while. Zanardi was given the last rites at the race track with oil from his engine. He was in a medically induced coma for weeks. Yet somehow he pulled through.

He got prosthetic legs, which he said he liked because he could now "choose his own height." He appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and made a few jokes. It's that sense of humor that he credits with helping him return to a normal life.

In 2003, he returned to the site of his crash and drove a specially equipped car with hand controls for 13 laps, the 13 laps he didn't finish after his accident. Zanardi also drove a specially equipped BMW in the World Touring Car Championship, where he was a race winner.

But after those adventures, Zanardi, who is now 45-years old, started handcycling almost by mistake. In 2007, he finished fourth in the New York City Marathon handcycle class. The kicker? He only trained for four weeks. In his fourth attempt, he won the New York City Marathon.

His goal was to earn a place on the Italian team for the 2012 Paralympics in England. He did just that, and today his training came to fruition: Alex Zanardi just won the men's road time trial by 27 seconds.

Now, Zanardi was always known for his ebullient and effervescent personality when he was racing in the states. You know how racers celebrate a win by doing donuts and burnouts? Zanardi started that.

Since he lost his legs, Zanardi has been known as an inspiration to his fellow racers. He never let it get him down and he never blamed Alex Tagliani, the driver that hit his car and broke it in half, for the loss of his legs. He just continues to be positive and lead his life to the fullest.

As you'd expect, the racing community is overjoyed at Alex's gold medal. And, of course, they're lighting up the Twitterverse with their congratulations.

[click here to see the full article w/ some of those tweets]

Jimmy Vasser was Zanardi's team mate during his championship winning years and now owns an IndyCar team. Apparently, on Tuesday night he promised Zanardi a car for the 2013 Indy 500 if Zanardi won gold.

The race took place at the Brands Hatch circuit in England, which is a track he had never won on before. Seems like he has something else to add to the old resume.

To see how Zanardi has overcome the extreme adversity he has faced over the last decade is incredibly satisfying and uplifting. What an inspiration.

Congrats!

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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