Pope hails Alex Zanardi's 'lesson of humanity'

Pontiff prays for seriously injured paralympic champion Zanardi.

Pope Francis has sent a handwritten letter of support to Alex Zanardi, the paralympic champion who is currently in a medically-induced coma following a serious road accident on his handbike on 19 June.

In his letter, published today by Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, the pontiff hails the former Formula One driver as an "example of how to successfully start again."

The 53-year-old sporting legend was left battling for his life after receiving serious head injuries in a collision with a truck during the Obiettivo Tricolore relay race between Pienza and San Quirico d'Orcia in Tuscany last week.

"Dearest Alessandro, your story is an example of how to be able to start again after a sudden stop," the pope wrote to Zanardi, a hugely popular figure who gained widespread respect for reinventing himself after having both legs amputated following a horrific racing-car crash in 2001.

"Through sport, you taught how to live life as a protagonist, making disability a lesson of humanity. Thank you for giving strength to those who had lost it" - wrote Pope Francis -  "I am close to you at this delicate moment. I pray for you and your family."

Zanardi, who has won a total of four Paralympic gold medals - two each at London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016 - remains in serious but stable condition at the S. Maria alle Scotte hospital in Siena, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

Photo credit: Alextype / Shutterstock.com

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