Achmat Hassiem: An Inspiration To Us All...

Look, I LOVE the Olympics (when they televise it properly) as we get to watch some of the best athletes in the world compete in one of the finest of stages.

But there is one thing I love more than the Olympic Games... that being the PARALYMPIC Games. Witnessing what the human body and mind is capable of when challenged by life. One of my all time heroes is Kurt Fearnley, what this guy has been able to achieve and his outlook on life is so appealing and inspirational. This article is about a South African athlete, Achmat Hassiem, and his amazing journey to the Olympics Games.

I won't take anything away from original newspaper articles. Here is one from the BBC News Africa Website:

"South African swimmer Achmat Hassiem, who lost a leg in a shark attack, hopes to win a medal at the Paralympic Games in London. The 30-year-old said he had been training hard for the 100m butterfly and the 100m and 400m freestyle races. "I'm in the top three in the world for my event. What more can I ask for?" he said. 

Hassiem's leg was severed by a shark at Muizenberg beach in 2006 after he drew it away from his brother, Taariq. "A four-and-a-half metre great white shark came into the training bay and was heading for my brother," the former lifeguard narrated. "As you know, it's obviously the job of big brother to look after little brother." 'Good things' Hassiem, who was 24 at the time, said he started "drumming" in the water until the shark left Taariq, 17, alone and came towards him. "I told the lifeguards to pull my brother out of the water," he said. "Then, it was just me and the shark. 

The next thing I knew the shark grabbed me at the lower half of my right leg, continued to thrash me around and pulled me underneath the water for about 50m." He said he fought the shark until he heard the "sound of my bone breaking" from his leg. "I knew I was free and I immediately swam to the surface," said Hassiem, who lived close to the Cape Town beach where the attack took place. 

Hassiem, who competed at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, said the attack was a life-changing event. "The most important thing was the life of my brother. To lose a leg is nothing," he added. "Good things have happened to me since then. Today, I'm a Paralympian." He said he was excited about competing at the London Paralympics, which get under way on 29 August with the opening ceremony. "I was in Beijing. When I walked out to the pool deck, hearing all the people cheering brought tears to my eyes," he said. "I can just imagine what London is going to sound like."

All I can say is WOW. I almost got a tear from reading this article, to have that self-sacrifice for his brother and then the determination to survive, plus the focus to face his fears to become an elite athlete.


I found a 4 minute video of Achmat talking about his achievements and that life-changing day. For an in-depth article check out this link - Achmat's Amazing Story 

Thanks for taking the time to read my article.