Back at the 2005 Laureus World Sports Award, it was the inspiring Alessandro Zanardi’s remarkable courage that won him the Comeback of the Year Award.
This was following his return to motor racing having lost both his legs in a horrific crash just four years earlier.
His 2001 accident in the European Memorial CART race in Lausitz, Germany was one of the worst ever seen.
His car spun coming out of the pits and was hit by another coming down the straight at 200mph. The impact was so great that his vehicle was ripped in two.
Demonstrating incredible commitment and passion, Zanardi returned to motor racing in October 2003 and went on to complete a full season in the European Touring Car championship in 2004.
On his return, he drove a specially adapted car in which the throttle was mounted on the upper part of the steering wheel, the brake pedal was shaped to prevent the driver's artificial limb from losing grip, whilst the clutch actuated through a button on the gear lever.
Though his return to his sport in this way made him worthy of recognition by the Laureus Academy, Zanardi’s journey following this has gone on to show how inspirational a figure he truly is.
Though he retired from motor racing in 2009, it certainly wasn’t because he was finished with sport altogether.
That’s because he would now focus on the new sport he had adopted since 2007: hand cycling.
From the very start, success came remarkably quickly.
In 2007 he achieved 4th place in the New York City Marathon in the handcycle division after only four weeks of training.
By the end of 2011, however, Zanardi had finally won the New York Marathon at his fourth attempt. He added this first place finish to previous victories at the Venice Marathon in 2009 and the Rome Marathon in 2010.
Perhaps his most exciting achievement of the past year, however, has been his qualifying to race for the Italian team at the London 2012 Paralympics.
Zanardi may be approaching 46 by the time the Games come around later this year, but considering his achievements so far, it’s a safe bet he will be chasing nothing but gold.