Sep 4, 2012, 10:05 AM EDT
Achmat Hassiem of South Africa finished ninth in the 100-meter butterfly at the Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008, and this year in London he was determined to do better. His motivation? He simply imagines that he was being chased by the Great White shark that bit off his leg.
Yep, that’ll work every time. On Saturday Hassiem won the bronze.
It happened in 2006 in Cape Town, South Africa, when Hassiem was participating in a lifeguard training exercise. In distracting a shark that was swimming toward his brother, he was dragged about 50 meters by the shark and had his right leg bitten off below the knee.
“My little secret is obviously that I just try and imagine I’m in the ocean and I’ve got a 4½-meter great white shark at my feet,” Hassiem said. “It’s definitely good motivation to swim fast.”
Natalie du Toit, who was the first amputee ever to qualify for the Olympics (marathon swimming, 2008), encouraged Hassiem to get into competitive swimming. Later this week he’ll swim in the 100- and 400-meter freestyle.
“That shark turned my life around for a reason, and I’ve got to make the best of all my opportunities now,” he said.
- So long folks, it’s time for me to take off 18
- Man wins full marathon while pushing his daughter in a baby stroller (video) 14
- Lock and load, it’s youth baseball fundraising time: league raffling off AR-15 rifle (video) 8
- Sim Bhullar is a large basketball player, and I mean it. Anybody want a peanut? 0
- What’s with kids and all these death-defying stunts? 674
- Nothing to see here…just a 70-yard field goal by a high-schooler (video) 3
- None found