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Memorable win for Zanardi

London, September 7, 2012, Reuters: 22:23 IST
Former racing driver Alessandro Zanardi won Paralympic gold at a circuit where he once drove high powered cars, as the showpiece “Battle of the Blade Runners” took shape on the track.

It was also a day for multiple medallists, as the most-decorated male Paralympian took gold again in his ninth Games and Australia got a new star in the pool.

The 45-year-old Zanardi’s win in the individual H4 (hand-cycle) time-trial at Brands Hatch was a triumph for the Italian former Formula One driver, who was critically injured and had both legs amputated after a horror smash in 2001.

He battled back into motorsport, even competing in a touring car race at the fabled southeast England circuit in a specially-adapted car with hand controls, before switching his efforts to hand-cycling.

And although he was travelling much slower than in his Formula One and Indy heyday — his average speed was 38.652 kilometres (24.017 miles) per hour — he described it as “a great accomplishment, one of the greatest” of his life.

“With an engine pushing me, I didn’t realise it (the Brands Hatch circuit) was so hilly. It is very hard but if I had to design a course, this is what I would have done,” he added.

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