When life knocked Alex Zanardi down, he not only got back up but also looked for the good amongst the bad, becoming an inspiration to millions of people.
Alex Zanardi’s life has been full of crashes. When he was 13, his older sister was killed instantaneously in a car accident, shocking his whole family.
“After Cristina died, my parents became very protective of me,” Zanardi recalled. Instead of giving him a motorbike, his father took him to a go-kart track, not knowing this would lead him to his own horrific crash years later.
Zanardi fell in love with racing and became a well known Formula One driver. An optimistic and outgoing personality, the media loved him.
However, after a challenging year of equipment breakdowns and a disappointing 7th place race, Zanardi entered a German race in 2001, determined to win.
With 13 laps left, he lost control on a turn, and another race car smashed into him at 200mph. His car broke into two pieces and ripped off both of Zanardi’s legs, putting him an inch from death.
“Losing my legs was one of the greatest opportunities of my life.”
Instead of focusing on the physical loss, Zanardi woke up with his mind still on winning the race. His optimistic outlook carried him through the recovery, no matter how painful or slow it was.
He saw everything as an opportunity, something his sister never had.
The world watched as Zanardi refused to quit racing and instead returned to his passion. Within one year of the accident, he was back at the race track, waving the checkered flag, and has since helped design race cars with hand controls to race again.
Zanardi, additionally, took up hand cycling, later won gold for Italy in the Paralympics Games. He also holds the Ironman world record for a disabled athlete, with a time of 8 hours and 25 minutes.
His friend Jimmy Vasser calls him a great champion, hero, and role model, saying that “the things that he continues to do  show the way how to live your life every day.”
Sadly, despite Zanardi’s incredible comeback, he was hit by a truck in June 2020 after losing control in a hand-cycling race. At the time of writing, the world is waiting to see if he can stage another incredible comeback. His doctors already reported he was gaining ‘clinical improvements.’
How we frame struggles can change our mindset and create new opportunities in life. How have you reacted to previous obstacles in life, and were you able to think of a silver lining?
“Once you put everything in the right perspective, even bad times can be an opportunity to refresh your appetite, your desire.”