Ex-Auto Racer Zanardi, Pistorius Win Gold Medals at Paralympics
Former racing driver Alex Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in a 2001 crash, won a gold medal in hand-cycling at the London Paralympics, where Oscar Pistorius secured his first title of the 2012 games.
Zanardi, 45, took the men’s individual time-trial in 24 minutes, 50.22 seconds over the 16-kilometer course at Brands Hatch. The victory came on the same circuit in Kent, southeast England, the Italian had driven during his auto racing career.
“It’s at the top of the scale with the many other great moments I’ve been lucky enough to live,” said Zanardi, who lifted his bike above his head in celebration after his victory.
China increased its lead in the medal standings to 60 golds and 159 medals in total after eight of 12 days of competition. Russia is second with 28 golds among its 73 medals. Britain has 25 gold medals, followed by Ukraine and Australia with 22 each.
The games run through Sept. 9, with more than 4,000 athletes from 164 teams competing in a series of classes depending on their impairment.
Zanardi won two driver titles in the Championship Auto Racing Teams series in the U.S. after joining from Formula One in 1995. He was critically injured and had both legs amputated after crashing in a 2001 race in Germany.
Zanardi returned to driving in touring cars with hand controls before turning his attention to hand-cycling, winning the category at the 2011 New York Marathon.
Pistorius, 25, anchored South Africa’s 400-meter sprint relay team to victory in the T42/T46 event in a world-record time of 41.78 seconds at the Olympic Stadium.
“We smashed that world record,” Pistorius told reporters. “I said to the guys to stay calm and focused.”
Known as the “Blade Runner,” Pistorius suffered an upset defeat to Brazil’s Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira in the 200- meter T44 final four days ago. The pair will race again in tonight’s 100-meter T44 final, where Pistorius will defend the title he won in Beijing four years ago.
Britain’s Sarah Storey won her third cycling gold medal of the games, and 10th of her career, in the women’s C5 time-trial at Brands Hatch yesterday. The 34-year-old also won two gold medals in track cycling in London.
Swedish shooter Jonas Jacobsson, the most-decorated male Paralympian, successfully defended his title in the men’s 50- meter rifle 3 positions SH1 event. The 47-year-old has 30 medals and 17 golds in nine appearances at the games.
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