Zanardi returns home after 18 months in hospital

Zanardi underwent multiple operations after being placed in an induced coma after the June 19, 2020 accident while taking part in a road race on a handbike.

File image of Alex Zanardi.   -  AP

Former Formula One driver and Paralympic cycling champion Alex Zanardi is back home after nearly 18 months in hospital following a near-fatal handbike accident, his wife Daniela said.

Italian Zanardi underwent multiple operations after being placed in an induced coma after the June 19, 2020 accident while taking part in a road race on a handbike.

"An important step was that Alex was able to leave hospital a few weeks ago and is back at home with us now," Daniela said in a news release issued by BMW, for whom Zanardi is a group ambassador.

"We had to wait very long for this and are very happy that it was possible now, even if there are still temporary stays in special clinics planned for the future to carry out special rehabilitation measures on site."

A double Champ Car champion in the United States, Zanardi had to have both of his legs amputated above the knee following a horrific crash in a race in Germany in September 2001.

He recovered to return to the track in touring cars with BMW before later taking up paracycling and winning four Paralympic gold medals.

Daniela said her husband's rehabilitation programme led by doctors, physiotherapists, neuropsychologists and speech therapists had resulted in steady progress.

"Of course, setbacks are there and can still occur," she added. "Sometimes you also have to make two steps back in order to make one step forward. But Alex proves again and again that he is a real fighter."

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