Achmat Hassiem was nearly killed by a Great White Shark. Today, one of South Africa’s most celebrated Paralympians is a global ambassador in defence and support of Great White Sharks.
Hassiem, infamously attacked at Muizenberg while doing a lifesaving drill with his younger brother Tariq, saved his brother’s life and lost a leg in the process.
The attack was global news and Hassiem’s story is one of courage, compassion and triumph.
Among his most memorable moments was seeing the brother he saved (Tariq), win gold at the General Tire Lifesaving South Africa Inter Provincial National Championship Beach Flag events held at Camps Bay in 2017.
Hassiem then also took the sand and surf to compete in the inaugural Celebrity Challenge.
‘It was a very special weekend, watching my brother win gold.’
Hassiem talks about celebration, more than heartache and pain. He got to represent his country at three successive Paralympic Games in 2008, 2012 and 2016 and he gets to inspire so many by the telling of this remarkable tale.
And most importantly, he gets to enjoy the company of his brother.
Hassiem is also a global advocate for saving the very species that nearly ended his life. The United Nations have named him as a Global Shark Guardian.
What that entails is that he works to protect sharks all over the world, sort of like an advocate or ambassador for sharks.
Hassiem is known internationally as ‘Shark Boy’ and the events of August 13, 2006, at Muizenberg beach could easily be that of a Superhero.
The shark dragged Hassiem underwater for about 50 meters and it was only when the shark tore off Hassiem’s right leg (from the knee down) did it momentarily allow for him to resurface, even though he felt it would be in vain.
‘When the shark was pulling me down the rescue boat just seemed further and further away.
‘And even though I was no longer in the grip of the shark’s jaws I just couldn’t keep my body afloat any more. I felt so tired and as I started sinking I could hear the sound of the engine again. It got louder and I saw the black belly of the dinghy skimming across the surface. I saw this outstretched arm in the water and just grabbed onto it. It was my brother’s arm.
Tariq had also risked his life to save his older brother, who minutes earlier had been prepared to die to save his younger brother’s life.
Follow Achmat Hassiem on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx-UVv36heA