Based: Cape Town
Shark attack survivor, Achmat Hassiem lost his foot to a Great White shark when participating in a lifeguard training session at Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg in 2006. Since then, Hassiem has made an amazing recovery, learning to walk with his prosthetic foot, competing in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and 2010 IPC World Swimming Championships in the Netherlands.
Hassiem is currently training for 2012 London Olympics, where winning the gold medal is his number one goal. Hassiem is captain of the Western Province swimming team, and has led them to victory for three years running.
He competed in the SA Nedbank National disabled championships in 2011, winning eight gold medals of the eight events he had entered and setting six new all African records and he is currently the world champion for 200m butterfly. He conquered his fear of going back into the seas when he completed the 7.5km Cadiz Robben Island cold water swim in 2010 and 2011.
29 year-old Hassiem is living his dream. He received the Bravery Award from Prince Michael of Kent on behalf of the Royal Lifesaving Society. In September 2010 Hassiem showed his support in saving Great White Sharks by meeting with fellow shark attack survivors and the PEW Organisation in New York, USA. Here he told his story to the United Nations and The Today show. He met Penelope Cruz who congratulated him on his outstanding speech.
Hassiem’s natural storytelling ability and charisma ensure that his motivational talks are memorable, and his enjoyment is obvious when he is inspiring an audience live or on television. He brings to life his experiences and how he overcomes his challenges with perseverance, focus and a positive attitude. The sports management graduate hopes to encourage young people like himself and others younger than him, inspiring them to believe in their dreams and to strive for them whatever it takes.
Achmat shares a strong empathy for those who have to work a little harder to achieve their goals. In his words – anyone can achieve the impossible.