By David Gold

italy paralympiansSeptember 20 - Italian Paralympic Committee President Luca Pancalli has praised the country's Paralympians at an event welcoming them back from London 2012.

They arrived back in Italy with a reception held at the Cuirassiers del Quirinale in Rome.

Italy won 28 Paralympic medals, nine of them gold, at London 2012, to finish 13th overall. 

Their most successful event was the road cycling, where they claimed four golds, two of which were won by the former Formula One star Alex Zanardi.

It was a huge improvement from four years' previously in Beijing, when Italy won four gold medals and took home 18 in total.

"One certainty I have [is that]...many Italians are passionate about these extraordinary athletes, their stories and their victories," said Pancalli.

"[They] showed the face of Italian sport that is not only competitive, but also a social rehabilitator.

"Through them we give the country a completely different image of disability."

Alessandro Zanardi_of_Italy_poses_with_his_Gold_medal_after_winning_the_Mens_Individual_H_4_Road_RaceAlex Zanardi celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men's individual H4 road race at London 2012

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano added his praise for the athletes, saying: "Thanks to all who made the delegation with their energy and passion.

"From them we received a lot of life lessons, morals and all of Italy has understood this."

Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Gianni Petrucci added his praise for all of the country's athletes who went to London, commenting: "These athletes demonstrate that with sacrifice and passion you can get great results."

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