Earlier this month, Alex Zanardi proved to the world that pretty much anything is possible. The former F1 driver who lost the use of his legs in 2001 in a Champ Car crash completed the 2014 Kona Ironman triathlon competition in Hawaii.
9 hours, 47 minutes and 14 seconds was the time it took for Zanardi to complete a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle and, on top of that, an entire marathon, bringing him in just outside the top 10% of finishers at 272nd out of 2187 competitors. Zanardi reached the finish line after impeccable use of his arms; swimming with a unique wet vest which kept his body floating, cycling with his self-invented handcycle, and ultimately, finishing the marathon by using an Olympic wheelchair.
Calling him an Ironman would almost be an understatement. Not only has he achieved the lifelong dream of many athletes by finishing the highly prestigious, world-renowned triathlon, but he is also the holder of one silver and two gold 2012 Paralympic medals, along with two gold medals in the road time trial and road relay in the 2014 World Championships.
What’s particularly inspiring about any Ironman competition is that most people who enter it don’t do it for the sake of beating other people, but rather for the sake of accomplishing something great personally. Competitors in all Ironman competitions vary from a vast range of international backgrounds with very different experience, impediments and skills. But they all share something extremely valuable: years of highly intensive training, both physically and mentally.
And if Zanardi has taught us one thing, it’s that the mental strength you need in order to achieve something so unbelievable should not be underestimated. An accomplishment like this is monumental, because he has proved not only to himself, but to the entire world, that anything is attainable as long as you find ways to overcome the hurdles that leave permanent obstructions in your path, leaving us all in awe and admiration of such a remarkable achievement.
[Sarah Ågren – @sarahagren]