Zanardi aiming for Italy’s London 2012 team

Former F1 driver gains Olympic ambition after worlds performance

Former Formula One driver Alex Zanardi has announced he’s aiming to make Italy’s cycling squad for the 2012 London Paralympic Games. Zanardi finished 15th in the Individual Time Trial at the Para-cycling World Championships in Italy last week, but had already signaled his ambitions prior to the race.

"My honest objective is to be at the level of the best Italian bikers and to finish in the top half of the classification," he wrote on his website, "waiting for a dream that could come true in London in 2012."

The double amputee finished fourth in the New York Marathon’s hand cycling division in 2007, having only trained for a few weeks prior. The 42-year-old took up handcycling in earnest after his debut in New York. Zanardi clocked 33:55 minutes for his worlds run over the 19.4 kilometre course and while he was 4:45 minutes behind Beijing gold medal winner Oz Sanchez Zanardi was the second Italian, one place behind Giovanni Achenza.

During the early 1990s Zanardi competed in Formula One with teams such as Jordan, Minardi, Lotus and Williams before moving to American open-wheeler series CART in 1996. His life was threatened in 2001 when a crash at EuroSpeedway Lausitz claimed both legs above the knee, causing massive loss of blood.

After having prosthetic limbs fitted and an extensive rehabilitation program, Zanardi returned to motorsport in 2003. He secured a full-time World Touring Car Championship drive just one year later where he won his first race since losing both legs and continues to compete.

His BMW drive in the WTCC saw the German company modify a BMW Sauber Formula One car for the Italian to test at Valencia in Spain, where a Vuelta a Espana time trial was held this month.

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