Former Formula One driver Alessandro Zanardi's 'little bit of sadness' at winning Paralympic gold

Alessandro Zanardi receives his gold medal after winning the Men's Individual H4 Time Trial. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Former Formula One driver Alessandro Zanardi told ITV News that winning gold in the handcycling was a moment of "great emotion" but "also a little bit of sadness".

Zanardi finished more than 27 seconds ahead of German Norbert Mosandl in the men's individual H4 handcycling time trial at Brands Hatch - where the Italian has finished on the podium before, during his motor racing career.

The 45-year-old Italian told ITV News:

There was great emotion, very, very happy but in a way, you know, this moment brings also a little bit of sadness because this was the horizon towards what I set my life for the past two years. Had it not been as exciting, as great in every day of training, I wouldn't have got here. What I've learnt in life is that the results you get are a simple consequence of the effort you put into it.

Zanardi had both legs amputated above the knee after a 220mph crash in the Champ Car series in 2001.

Zanardi in 1999 giving the media a sneak preview of the Williams Formula One car. Credit: David Jones/PA Archive

He returned to racing only a year and a half after the crash and continued in the World Touring Car championships until 2009, by which time he had taken up handcycling.

Zanardi said when it was announced that the handcycling would take place at Brands Hatch - which used to host the British Formula One grand prix - it was "another sign of telling me things are going to go just right".

He added:

All I wanted to do was to reach the end of it knowing that I gave it my all, that's the exciting part in life. It's a never-ending process. Everything you do in life, whether it's sport or profession or just being a good husband for your wife or a good dad for your son, you can always learn something from previous mistakes in your experiences and make it better the following day. On top, my dad told me, every day is an opportunity do add something to what you've done in the previous one and this has been the case for me.