"His talent, determination and spirit of fair play makes him an excellent role model for any budding sports person, be they able-bodied or disabled."
Italian para-cyclist Alex Zanardi received the SportAccord Euronews Sport Hero award, announced during a ceremony in Sochi, Russia that was broadcast live on Euronews in 156 countries and 13 languages.
He was joint winner with French judoka Teddy Riner in front of two other shortlisted finalists: USA’s Lindsey Vonn (alpine skiing) and Japan’s Kohei Uchimura (gymnastics).
“Alex Zanardi is a fantastic ambassador for the sport of para-cycling,” UCI President Brian Cookson said. “In just a few years, he has risen to the ranks of the world’s elite and won all the major international handbike titles going. His talent, determination and spirit of fair play makes him an excellent role model for any budding sports person, be they able-bodied or disabled. He is a true sport hero.”
A silver medallist in the road time trial at the 2011 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, Zanardi went on the next year to claim two gold medals (in the road race and time trial) and a silver medal with his Italian team in the mixed relay at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
“If I still had two legs, I would never have gone to London,” Zanardi said after winning his Paralympic titles.
Following his success in London, Zanardi won the overall UCI Para-cycling World Cup, followed by gold in the time trial and team relay and silver in the road race at the UCI Para-cycling World Championships.