Effort, sweat and joy

Break a leg by Alex Zanardi

Every verb has its conjugations. But for one verb, every tense brings its own “emotions”.
I’m talking about to sweat. In the present, when used to describe what we’re doing, it is a synonym for suffering. Looking forward, thinking about what we have to do, the verb adds a sense of worry or preoccupation. But in the past, when the sweating is over…well, it usually evokes a sense of satisfaction. In our memories and stories, it suggests something we did had an element – big or small – of achievement, regardless of whether it was worth it or not.


Being able to say, or even simply think, that we toughed it out while suffering increases our sense of self and makes us feel good. Many people stop here. Not because of some fault, but because life is about opportunities. Sometimes they find us, sometimes they don’t. And sometimes we recognise them, while other times, they just slip by. People go through life firmly believing that being able to do things brings happiness, that achieving significant results is all that counts. I’m afraid not.



A perfect life? Full of real attemo

But it’s actually a blessing to know there’s more. Yes, it’s a blessing to know that you can influence this process so the end of one challenge, becomes the imaginary fuel to begin the next – it is almost a need, a new horizon, you start chasing straight away, start sweating for again. Yes, it’s a blessing to know this changes everything, to know that the melancholy that comes with completing a stage in one’s life can block out the joy of achievement.

In short, it is realising a perfect life is not about grand results, but about the grand attempts needed to achieve them. This is no subtle difference.

True champions, those right at the top, are few and far between. But each of us can choose our path in life, follow it and discover the journey is where joy really lies. So, we have what makes us happy at our fingertips.

The fun is in trying…

I didn’t always see things like this. If I’d realised this in my mid-twenties, when I was stronger and more physically resistant, I might have been exceptional. Still, I got there in the end and this is now my strength. In 2012, at Brands Hatch, when I claimed my second gold in two races, achieving the final goal for “my” paralympics in London, my only thought was how much I’d enjoyed trying. Those were unique memories, tied to the daily grind, to many moments that dotted a path that had taken me three years – a path I was already missing. I had won, but it also ended a chapter in my life. But, there was the sweetness of knowing the very next day I would find a new excuse to start “sweating”.



… and in continuing to sweat

This is how we get the best out of ourselves, and it can be just great at times. It clearly happens in sport, where being exceptional is often the only way to get ahead. But this immensely powerful driving force can push us forward in a thousand different spheres – work, study, everyday life, personal relations and more. It even applies to the setbacks we face, those moments that help us truly understand who we are.


Victory in my paralympics began in Berlin, back in 2001. Following that horrendous accident in which I nearly lost my life, I was lying in a hospital bed, just feeling a sense of enormous gratitude to the physicians who’d saved my life, given it worth I’d never previously considered. I realised who I was and I was curious about what I could do with what I had left. Having learnt to sweat through sport, I knew it would be great to sweat to get everything sorted out.

A trilling project

In this section, I’ll be talking about issues linked to Enervit and what the Enervit Equipe does. I don’t feel I have any specific obligation to the company because I’m wearing its colours. We’re simply working on a project we’re passionate about, but see from different points of view. This is why our actions are complementary. Some people are born with more talent, others with less – but we can all improve.

In sport, our muscles are our engine, so to really optimise our project, everything had to start with nutrition.

Clearly, experimentation is needed and mistakes have to be corrected as part of determining what details we need to focus on in every sphere. It’s impossible to do everything and so it’s worth seeking advice from people with experience. And then we need to bring everything together, weaving in our reasoning. There is no pretence of bringing innovation to every aspect, but there is the belief that, once in a while, it might happen…. because sometimes people believe that certain goals are beyond a disabled person. They believe the Ironman is practically impossible for someone without legs. And if you truly believe and say the whole race might be done in less than ten hours, people look at you with wide eyes. I’m down to 8:26:06. But since I’m still on the road, sweating, I’m excited to see what my journey still has in store for me.

Alessandro Zanardi, detto Alex, nasce a Bologna il 23 ottobre 1966. Sposato con Daniela, ha un figlio, Niccolò. A 14 anni inizia la sua avventura automobilistica nelle gare dei Go-Kart. In otto anni vince tre titoli nazionali e un europeo. Nel 1993 è in Formula 1 con la Lotus. Nel 1996 entra a far parte del Team di Chip Ganassi nella serie americana CART World Championship Series. Ci resta giusto il tempo di vincere due titoli Mondiali. Nel 1999 torna in Formula 1 a bordo, però, di una Williams. Nel 2001, sul circuito tedesco di Lausitzring, in Germania, un terribile incidente lo priva delle gambe. Potrebbe fermarsi, invece è la svolta. Nel giro di pochi anni, le sue strabilianti imprese lo eleveranno all’olimpo dei grandi campioni dello sport. Nel 2007 scopre l’handbike e si iscrive alla Maratona di New York: il quarto posto è tutto suo. Nel tempo, forza di volontà, entusiasmo e cura nei dettagli sono le qualità che affina sempre di più per fregiarsi del titolo di pluricampione olimpico nell’handbike. A Londra 2012, infatti, porta a casa 2 ori individuali nella cronometro e in quella in linea. E a Rio 2016, alla soglia dei 50 anni, grazie al lavoro svolto sotto la guida del suo preparatore atletico, Francesco Chiappero, e da tutto lo staff di Equipe Enervit, stravince nella cronometro e nella staffetta. Intanto, tra un’Olimpiade e l’altra, raccoglie altri ori nelle diverse edizioni del Para-cycling World Champioship. Tutto questo, senza mai trascurare il suo primo amore: le auto. Nel 2014 accetta di rivestire il ruolo di Ambasciatore di BMW nel mondo e rimette i panni di pilota nel Campionato Blancpain GT Sprint con la BMW Z4 GT3 ufficiale. Prosegue l’attività para-ciclistica e conquista la Coppa del mondo, il titolo di Campione mondiale nella gara a cronometro e in quella a squadre a Greenville, Stati Uniti. Ma il 2014 sigla anche l’importante incontro tra Alex Zanardi ed Enervit, che seguirà il campione nel suo debutto nella gara più massacrante del Triathlon: l’Ironman World Championship Final di Kona, alle Hawaii. Lo chiuderà in 9 ore, 47 minuti e 14 secondi, classificandosi al 273esimo posto su oltre 2000 partecipanti. C’è dell’altro, però: lo sfidante evento si trasformerà nell’occasione giusta per chiedere ad Alex di diventare Ambasciatore Enervit. Nel 2017 completa l’Ironman di Barcellona in meno di 9 ore. Nel 2018 conquista l’ennesimo oro nella cronometro nel Para-cycling World Champioship. E all’Ironman di Cervia, il tabellone sulla linea d’arrivo registra 8 ore, 26 minuti e 6 secondi: record mondiale per gli atleti con disabilità, all’interno del circuito Ironman. Mentre la classifica generale lo vede al 5° posto assoluto su quasi 3000 atleti in gara. Nel 2019, a Emmen, in Olanda, vince il titolo di Campione mondiale di paraciclismo. Una manciata di giorni dopo è all’IRONMAN Italia di Cervia per una sfida che sa di impossibile: cimentarsi nell’IRONMAN Full distance e il giorno successivo tentare il 70.3. Lo scopo? Verificare, insieme all’Equipe Enervit, il recupero e lo stress, in vista di Tokyo 2020. L’impresa riesce alla grande. Batte se stesso e stabilisce il nuovo record mondiale nella Full distance in 8 ore 25 minuti e 30 secondi e termina il 70.3, registrando il tempo di 4 ore 31 minuti e 38 secondi. La leggenda continua.