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Alex Zanardi seriously injured in handcycle crash

Paralympian and former F1 driver in serious condition in Italy

Alex Zanardi Photo by: Williams Racing / Twitter

Paralympic champion and former F1 driver Alex Zanardi remains in hospital in serious condition after colliding with a truck on Friday. The Italian was participating in Obiettivo Tricolore, a two-week relay through his home country to celebrate the country emerging from the coronavirus pandemic and attract attention to the paralympics.

Zanardi underwent surgery in Siena’s Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital on Saturday. He remains in serious but stable condition after a three-hour surgery reports Sky Sports. Due to the nature and severity of his injuries, Zanardi was put in a medically induced coma. The Paralympic champion suffered numerous and serious injuries to his head.

The 53-year-old was descending on a road near Pienza, in Tuscany, in a group with other para-athletes when he collided head-on with a semi-truck. Witnesses report Zanardi lost control and veered into the oncoming lane, reports the CBC. The truck attempted to avoid him, unsuccessfully.

A criminal investigation has been opened by prosecutors in Siena, into the accident and the race’s organization.

Alex Zanardi: From injury and inspiration

It isn’t the first time Zanardi has had to deal with a life-threatening injury. In 2001, he lost both legs in following a crash in Lausitzring in Germany. His heart reportedly stopped seven times and he suffered dramatic blood loss in the crash, requiring dual leg amputation.

Zanardi’s recovery from the crash has proven inspirational both to the Paralympic movement and in the world of motorsports. Over two Paralympics, 2012 and 2016, he won four gold medals in hand cycling.

Support for Zanardi poured out online from the motorsports world to the Italian prime minister and amongst the Paralympic movement.

The Paralympic Games put together a montage of some of Zanardi’s many triumphant moments on the handcycle:

Zanardi returned to motor racing after his amputation, and also competed in the Ironman triathlon: