(ANSA) - Rome, October 2 - Italy's Alex Zanardi has been voted the best male athlete of the Paralympics after the former Formula One driver won two golds and silver at the London Games. The 45-year-old came top of a poll on the website of the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) for the top athlete of the month for August and September combined - when the Paralympics took place. 'I'm excited and moved by the affection and the esteem that so many people have shown me and continue to do so,' Zanardi told the Italian Cycling Federation's website after collecting around 30,000 votes to top the poll. 'I thank all the people who voted for me and continue to show me affection,' added the Bologna native, who topped the podium in the individual road race and time trial H4 events, and helped Italy finish second in the mixed team relay H1-4. 'In addition to making me feel flattered, this is an important outcome for the Paralympic movement. Lots of people felt involved (in the poll) and part of the cause for a Paralympic athlete and this is really wonderful'. Zanardi competed in 44 Formula One grands prix in total between 1991 and 1994 for the Jordan, Minardi and Lotus teams and in 1999 with Williams. But his best results came in the now-defunct Champ Car series, which he won in 1997 and 1998. That was the championship he was competing in when he suffered a violent crash in 2001 at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Germany that changed his life.
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di Sebastiano Caspanello