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People Love This Moving Tribute To A Guy Who Lost Both Legs And Won Paralympic Gold

"To see someone like that talk the way he does, to me it means the world and it inspires me and it makes me proud to be disabled."

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On last night's The Last Leg co-host Alex Brooker paid an emotional tribute to former Formula One driver Alex Zanardi.

The Channel 4 presenter, his voice breaking at times, said the Italian handcyclist made him "proud to be disabled" after he won gold at the Rio Paralympics.

This week Zanardi, 49, won the H5 road time trial, 15 years after he lost both his legs in a crash during a race.

"I feel very lucky, I feel my life is a never-ending privilege," Zanardi, who took up handcycling after his crash, said.

Brooker, who was born with hand and arm deformities and later had his right leg partially amputated, said Zanardi was his hero.

"He was a Formula One driver and he had a horrific accident in Germany and both his legs were amputated upon impact. His heart stopped seven times, he spent 50 minutes with less than a litre of blood, and he was read the last rites," Brooker said on last night's show.

"The great thing about Alex Zanardi is not only is he a world-class handcyclist but his attitude to disability is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before."

Brooker went on to say:

I’ve been disabled all my life and I’ve complained about it when I wanted. I come on here now and celebrate my disability and I’m confident, but I’ll never fully be completely OK with it, and people at home will watch the Paralympic Games and able-bodied people will be inspired by it, but as a disabled man he inspires me. I’ve overcome a lot of issues with my disability over the years and as I get into later life I’ve got new ones to come: I wonder about how I’m going to cope when I have a child, how'll I hold my child for the first time? These are things that I think about and I worry about, even though I portray on here I am confident. But to see someone like that talk the way he does, to me it means the world and it inspires me and it makes me proud to be disabled, and that optimises the Paralympic Games for me.

You can watch the whole clip below, courtesy of Channel 4.

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Brooker's tribute was met with prolonged applause in the Last Leg studio, and has been widely praised online.

Writing on Twitter, Brooker said: "Thank you for the nice comments about tonight's The Last Leg. Will be gutted when the Paralympics are finished."


Matthew Champion is a weekend editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Matthew Champion at matthew.champion@buzzfeed.com.

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