Alex Zanardi, twenty years ago the accident that changed his life and that of many others

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It had been just four days since 9/11. The world was still stuck. Many stopped flights, many postponed events. Not that race. Formula CART takes place on the German Lausitzring circuit. The images are terrible and unforgettable. The car of Alex Zanardi spins and practically stops in the middle of the track. The impact with that of the Canadian Tagliani breaks it. “It was like a bomb had gone off,” said a commissioner. Immediate help, the rush to the hospital.

There are very few who believe that Zanardi can do it, so much so that they give him extreme unction, and he instead shows to be extraordinary.

After three days in a coma, sixteen operations and the amputation of the legs, he looks at his wife by the bed: “Daniela, is it true that I’m still alive?” Three months later he shows up on his feet at the ceremony of the golden helmets in Bologna. There is Michael Schumacher to reward him and he, at the first exit after the accident, stands up. «I wanted to tell you that I am broken but I am not giving up, it is a tough race but I do my best to win it».

Back on track Zanardi, who, the son of a housewife and a plumber, had always had a passion for engines. The parents were against, they had lost their daughter Cristina in a car accident. Then they said yes to the karts, the first built in the garage. He was back on track after the accident which was followed by eight cardiac arrests and as a result of which he had been left for 55 minutes with less than a liter of blood in his body. Said by him? “I have become a case for science.”

He remained a pilot and became a 6-medal para-cyclist Olympic and 12 world titles, triathlete, host of a program that could only be called Challenges and above all example. At the last Paralympics dozens of athletes have mentioned him as a mentor. «I will always thank Alex Zanardì, because it is also thanks to him that I have learned to love this sport. This medal is also his »said Katia Aere, bronze in the road race at the age of 50. Italy’s para-cycling coach Mario Valentini: «We continue to run with Alex in our hearts to do even better».

That’s what Alex Zanardi has always done: always improve, never give up. “He’s fighting, as he always has”his wife Daniela said last July, a year after the handbike accident that brought him back to the hospital and now undergoing a long period of rehabilitation. Breaking down is not a word in the Zanardian vocabulary, of the man who hurried to stand up after the amputation to carry his son on his shoulders and who was able to face everything lightly: “Now if I break my leg, a key is enough to 4 Allen key and I’ll be back on my feet! ».

Above all, he responded with frankness and lucidity to what life has put before him: “I focused on what was left of me not on what I had lostor in the accident »because« if you do one thing every day, even a small one, over time you can move mountains ».

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