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Alex Zanardi completes Ironman

The Italian handcyclist competed in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, USA. 16 Oct 2014
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Alessandro Zanardi

Alex Zanardi races on the Brands Hatch course at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

ⒸGetty Images
By IPC

“It was amazing. I was always close to crying. I am not an emotional guy for these types of things, but this was very special."

Italy’s Alex Zanardi has completed his first ever triathlon event at the 2014 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, USA, on Saturday, 11 October.

Using just the power of his arms, Zanardi completed the 226km course in 09:47:14, to finish 273 out of 2,187 competitors.

The London 2012 Paralympic champion finished the 3.8km swim in 01:08:43, before handcycing 180km in 06:07:51.

He then completed the 42.195km marathon in 02:24:50 to write his name in Iron Man folklore.

Speaking to ESPN about his achievement, he said: "It is fantastic and I will treasure this day in my heart for the rest of my life.

"The last 300 metres were worth everything, they were worth being here for. I don't know if everybody got cheered the same way, but when I passed down that narrow lane, I have never experienced anything like that.

“It was amazing. I was always close to crying. I am not an emotional guy for these types of things, but this was very special."

After the event, he also tweeted: “What a feel: thousands of people cheering you at the line and the speaker shouting: Alex Zanardi, YOU are an IRONMAN!”

The 48-year-old is a two-time Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) Championship winner from 1997 and 1998, and also competed in Formula 1 between 1991-1994 and again in 1999.

After a critical crash in which he lost both his legs, Zanardi made the switch to handcycling.

And he quickly rediscovered his racing edge, winning silver at the 2011 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships.

Then at London 2012, the H4 athlete achieved the incredible feat of gold in the individual time trial and road race and silver as part of the Italian team in the mixed relay.

Competing in one of the hardest categories, he claimed two more golds at the 2014 UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Greenville, USA, winning the time trial and the mixed relay.