Italian racing driver Alessandro Zanardi has won his third Paralympic gold medal in the 2016 Rio Games with victory in the handcycling time trial.
He led silver medallist Stuart Tripp by almost three seconds, with bronze going to Oscar Sanchez.
Zanardi’s latest triumph follows up the two golds and one silver he won in the 2012 London Olympics; the former F1 driver could yet scoop another medal too, as he’s to race today (Thursday 15 September) in the Rio road race and on Friday with the Italian national team as part of the relay.
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49 year old Zanardi first raced in Formula One in 1991, moving to the U.S. CART series in 2005. He won the series in 1997 and 1998, before moving back to F1 with Williams in 1999.
Zanardi returned to CART again in 2000 but suffered a horrific crash at the 2001 Lausitzring round in Germany on September 15: he lost both legs and nearly three quarters of his blood, and only swift medical attention saved his life.
The Italian racer has since returned to the cockpit in touring cars and GT cars, and has scored several wins in the World Touring Car Championship. He also took up hand cycling and first competed at the 2007 New York City Marathon, finishing fourth.
Zanardi joined the Italian national team for the London 2012 Paralympics and won his first gold on September 5 that year; he now hopes to add to his tally with further medals in the 2016 Rio Games.
“It has been a long journey, which basically started the day after the London games, when I decided that I would focus on a new horizon in my life and that this would be Rio,” Zanardi said.
“I am very, very happy. I am very grateful to all the people who helped me to be here and to enjoy this great achievement today.”