Alex Zanardi still fighting as he attempts to recover speech

Motorsport News

Alex Zanardi's wife, Daniela, has revealed that he still faces a "huge challenge" to recover from the injuries suffered in a handcycle accident last year

Alex Zanardi on a handcycle in 2020

Zanardi pictured on a handcycle in 2020, before his crash

Matteo Nardone/Pacific Press via Getty Images

Alex Zanardi’s fighting spirit is undimmed, despite a handcycle accident last year that has left him unable to speak, his wife has said.

In an interview published just over a year after the crash, Daniela Zanardi said that the double Champ Car title-winner, former Williams F1 driver and gold-winning Paralympian is at a clinic undergoing rehabilitation for the facial and head injuries he suffered.

His recovery is a “huge challenge” she said, with no indication as yet of when he can return home.

Zanardi spent a month in a medically-induced coma and his treatment means that he has currently lost his ability to speak.

“He can communicate with us, but he is still unable to speak,” said Daniela in the interview published by BMW, which employs Zanardi as a brand ambassador. “After a long time in a coma, the vocal cords must regain their elasticity. This is only possible through practice and therapy.

“It has been a very complex process that has required more neurosurgery and been characterised by a number of setbacks. Alex is in a stable condition, which means he is able to undergo training programmes for both his brain and his body.

“He still has a lot of strength in his arms and hands, and is training intensively on the equipment.”

From the archive

Speaking about her expectations of the future, Daniela said: “It is certainly another huge challenge. It is a very long journey and at the moment no predictions are made on when he will be able to return home. We put all our energy in Alex’s recovery.”

In 2001, Zanardi lost both of his legs in a ChampCar crash at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, 13 laps from the end of the race.

Twenty months later, he returned to the track to complete the 13 laps and went on to race in the European Touring Car Championship.

He won two gold handcycling medals at Brands Hatch in the London 2012 Olympic Games, plus a further two gold medals in Rio four years later.

He had been hoping to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics when he entered a national road race in Italy last year, but collided with a lorry during a descent.

For the second time in his sporting career, he was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries.


Zanardi won time-trial gold at Brands Hatch in the 2012 Paralympics, as well as gold in the road race


“I would like to tell all those people who are thinking of and praying for Alex that he is fighting – as he always has done,” said Daniela.

“One year after the accident, Alex’s condition is essentially stable. He is currently in a special clinic, where he is undergoing a rehabilitation programme. This includes multimodal and pharmacological stimulations under the guidance of doctors, physiotherapists, neuropsychologists and speech therapists to try to facilitate his recovery.

“We have received so many best wishes for his recovery, and I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you, on behalf of Alex, for every single message.

“The affection we have received from friends, fans, acquaintances, athletes and those involved in motorsport over the past year has been nothing short of touching and overwhelming and has been of enormous support for us in dealing with all this. However, a very special thank you goes to the medical personnel.”