Zanardi eager to defend gold in Rio Paralympics

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 26 (IANS) Paralympic handcycling champion Alex Zanardi may be more than twice the age of some of his rivals but that has not stopped him from dreaming of gold at the Rio 2016 Games.

The 45-year-old former Formula 1 and American Indy Car series driver won the individual time trial H4 and the individual road race H4 at the London 2012 Games. He was also part of the silver medal-winning team in the mixed relay H1-4.

“I love Rio, I use to come over in the late 90s for the Indy Car race, which I never won,” Xinhua reported on Wednesday quoting Zanardi.

“It was the same with (British track) Brands Hatch, it was a circuit I always loved, performed really well on, but never enjoyed the pleasure of winning a race there on four wheels. I had to go back with my handcycle to correct it,” he told

“I hope it will be the same case in Rio, as the Olympic Village will be close to the area where they used to have the oval circuit on which I competed with my Indy Car. Isn’t this a sign?” he said.

The Italian lost both his legs during a motor racing accident in Germany in 2001.

“It took me one year to really complete a rehabilitation process where I could use my prosthetic legs efficiently,” Zanardi said.

He said he hoped Rio and its people could freely express their own identity during the games.

“I have worked with Brazilian people many times and learned we’re very similar,” he said.

“We like to act professionally but with a smile on our face. I’m expecting these Games to be remembered for the joy, the colours and the positive spirit of the Brazilian people,” he added.

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