On Saturday, September 1st, Achmat Hassiem of South Africa competed in the men’s 100 meter butterfly race at the 2012 Paralympic games in London. Taking a different type of motivational approach towards swimming as fast as humanly possible, Hassiem imagined he was being chased by the same shark that bit off his right leg. His strategy seemed to be working, because this year he went home with a bronze medal.
Six years ago, the swimmer was attacked by a great white shark while swimming with his brother in a popular beach area off of Cape Town, South Africa. In an effort to get the shark;s attention away from his brother, he lost his leg.
After competing in the Beijing Paralympics four years ago, he was determined to come home with a medal this time. Hassiem told the Associated Press, “My little secret is obviously that I just try and imagine I’m in the ocean and I’ve got a 4 ½-meter great white shark at my feet. It’s definitely good motivation to swim fast.”
Despite the difficult hand that Hassiem has been dealt, he went on to say, “I believe I lost my leg for a good reason. Losing a leg is nothing compared to losing my brother, so I’m just trying to make the best of it.”
A very grateful brother, along with many other fans, will be cheering him on as he continues to compete in London this year.