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Paralympic champion Alex Zanardi leaves hospital

July 21, 2020

The Italian racer had been in hospital after suffering head trauma in a handbike accident. Zanardi, a former F1 driver and two-time CART champion in the US, went on to win multiple Paralympic golds after losing his legs.

Paracyclist Alex Zanardi
Image: Getty Images/A.Caparros

Former Formula One driver and Paralympic champion Alex Zanardi left hospital on Tuesday to be transferred to a neurological rehabilitation center to continue his recovery from a June handbike crash.

Zanardi, 53, suffered major brain trauma and skull injuries in an accident during a handbiking relay event in Tuscany on June 19, crashing into a large oncoming vehicle. He underwent three surgeries at a hospital in Siena after the crash and was in a medically induced coma until last week.

The hospital did not say whether or not he had regained consciousness.

"His clinical condition and vital signs have shown he's on the road toward stability, which allowed for the reduction of the sedative, and therefore the possibility to be transferred to a facility where he can receive neuro-rehabilitation," hospital director Valtere Giovannini said on Tuesday.

"Zanardi has shown extraordinary strength, which is a precious gift that he'll need on the new challenge beginning today."

Zanardi, a former Formula One driver and two-time champion in the US CART racing series, lost both of his legs in an auto racing accident in Germany in 2001. He continued racing in modified touring cars for years afterwards, before later pivoting to handbike racing and dominating the 2012 and 2016 Paralympic games, earning four gold medals and two silvers.

He was set to compete in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo before the Games were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

dv/msh (AP, dpa)