Pope writes to Zanardi saying that his life is a “lesson in humanity”


File image of Italian driver Alex Zanardi wearing headphones in the cockpit of his specially modified car on the Eurospeedway Lausitzring circuit in the city of Klettwitz in eastern Germany. May 11, 2003. REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch / Archive (Fabrizio Bensch /)

ROME, Jun 24 (Reuters) – Pope Francis wrote to Formula One former driver and Paralympic champion Alex Zanardi, who is in intensive care after suffering serious head injuries in a bicycle accident, telling him that his life is a “lesson in humanity “

In a handwritten missive published by Gazzetta dello Sport, the Argentine religious said that Zanardi, 53, who switched to adapted cycling after losing both legs in an accident in a Champ Car test in Germany in 2001, is a example of how to live a full life.

Zanardi is an inspiration in the world of motorsports and Paralympic events, as he is a very popular and optimistic competitor who returned after his serious injuries with a smile.

He has won a total of four Paralympic gold medals: two in London 2012 and another two in Rio de Janeiro 2016.

“Dear Alessandro, your story is an example of how to succeed when starting again after an unexpected stop,” the letter said. “Through sports you have taught us how to live a full life, turning disability into a lesson in humanity.

“Thank you for giving strength to those who had lost it. In this painful moment I am close to you, I pray for you and your family,” he added.

Zanardi is being treated at the Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital in Siena. The latest statement on Tuesday indicated that his condition remains serious, but stable.

(Report by Brian Homewood; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)