Because you are like Ufo Robot

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The heroes are all young and beautiful. He has not been young for a while but he is beautiful, with two fairytale blue eyes and a mild smile that none of the many thunderbolts that have targeted him has managed to incinerate, harden, change into a grin. Hold on again this time, champion. You have already done it when a car accident took away Cristina, your sister in bloom, at 15, and when your father Dino, a plumber, from whom you inherited the big hands and the passion for mechanics and engines, after having you followed in every circuit on Earth, it left you just before you won the two world titles in Formula Cart. You did it, the feat of resisting, after the diabolical German Saturday. Do it again for us, that people like you or Bebe Vio should look to as soon as we complain to God about everything.

Now that the indomitable Zanardi sleeps who knows what sleep in the intensive care unit of the Santa Maria alle Scotte in Siena, devastated by a “facial crash” that scares just to imagine it, the hope is that the help of distant thoughts will come to his aid. Frames of the past that have contributed to making him what he is, and that we, admiring his stubborn rebellion against the maladies, would love to be. There is a sweet childhood behind Sandrino’s steely character, with a mother, Anna, a hard-working seamstress, to whom he says he is very similar, and a father, Dino, who gave him the first go-kart, from which this whole story begins.

Alex must have learned valuable things in life from them, including courage, assuming it can be taught. I go to the maximum, as long as there is. At 10 as at 50, with or without legs, glued to the road, low to the ground, one with his shadow. When a colossal misfortune presented him with the first account, September 15, 2001, there were images, videos, even sounds, to demonstrate from what depth he had managed to put out his beautiful boy face, blessed with a kind of grace. unbreakable. This time, only drawings, 3D simulations and the first chilling sentences of the medical reports: the risk of not surviving is very high, the head is all broken. But Alex gets through the first night, then even the second, the third. A few more days and the photo of his son Niccolò’s hand placed over the white and sedated hand of his father arrives. “He’s a tiger, he’ll make it.” A climb like Everest awaits him, says a doctor, but if anyone can do it, it’s him. Sandrino from Bologna, strong in the child he jealously guarded inside, is one of the few humans who make the impossible possible.

But now it’s off. Now one wonders if he will succeed and emerge from the dark absence from a coma, and how, in what conditions. The prodigy bis: this we tenaciously continue to hope, beyond all evidence and reason, in the daily conflict between resignation for an exhaustion end and the wonder of another resurrection. In between, there is the suspended time of waiting without deadlines, of breaths held as if in front of a figure walking uncertainly on a thread stretched over a void without a net. After the long days of darkness, Zanardi’s first smile, if there was one, will surely have given it to Daniela, to his Niccolò, and as a bounce to that secret part of each of us, where we keep the rainbows and impossible dreams. Keep your eyes closed as long as you want, champion. There is no hurry, we are waiting for you good coupons, as long as you want, as long as there is. Cheering with your mouth closed, so as not to make noise. Sandrino Zanardi from Bologna, the man who lived twice. Both hiding the tears. Please: let’s make three.

(From Corriere della Sera, 25 July 2020)

Carlo Verdelli Born in 1957, Milanese, journalist. He directed Set, Vanity Fair, La Gazzetta dello Sport, the information offer Rai e the Republic. Today he is a columnist for the Corriere della Sera.

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