Former Paralympian swimmer Achmat ’Sharkboy’ Hassiem in a coma
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Cape Town – Former Paralympian swimmer and Eco Warrior Achmat Hassiem, known for his humility, is facing his ’’biggest challenge’’. He is in a coma in hospital after undergoing surgery.
The 39-year-old Hassiem’s family, the swimming community and Bergvliet High School (BHS) principal Stephen Price have asked people to keep him in their prayers. He was nicknamed ’’Sharkboy’’ after losing his lower right leg in a shark attack in 2006 while trying to save his younger brother, Tariq, while training for lifesaving exams at Muizenberg beach.
’’Past pupil Achmat Hassiem, aka Sharkboy, according to family, is in a coma in hospital right now and is struggling to come through a recent surgery,’’ Price said.
’’His family have called on those who know Achmat to pray for him. As a school, we are proud of our Paralympic and Eco Warrior hero, winner of a bronze medal at the Rio (sic) Olympics, and we therefore call on the entire Bergvliet High community to lift him and his family up in your prayers.
’’He needs our prayers to overcome perhaps his biggest challenge. We believe that the power of prayer will lift him out of the coma so that he can begin his road to recovery.’’
After his amputation, the 1.94m tall Hassiem started swimming competitively and qualified for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. He is categorised in the S10 classification, the classification for swimmers with the most physical ability.
He swam in the men's 100-metre backstroke S10 event in Beijing, finishing sixth in his heat and failed to make the final.
Hassiem also represented South Africa at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, where he competed in the 100-metre butterfly and the 100- and 400-metre freestyle events. He won a bronze medal in the 100 metre butterfly, setting a new African record of 57.76 seconds in the final.
Hassiem spends a large part of his time travelling around the world conducting motivational talks and championing for the protection of sharks.
“I just want to give back to the shark. It was a shark that helped me realise my dreams and I owe it to these endangered sea creatures,” Hassiem has been quoted as saying.
“I want South Africa to be a champion for the sharks, just like the shark was a champion for me.”
Hassiem says the global demand for shark fins far exceeds the supply and numbers had declined up to 70% across the range. They also have a very low fertility.