Other Sport

‘Shark boy’ Hassiem hangs up his goggles

2016-09-14 16:08
Achmat Hassiem (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - South Africa’s Achmat Hassiem has announced his retirement on Instagram after competing in his final swimming event at the Rio Paralympic Games on Wednesday.

Hassiem was nicknamed ‘shark boy’ after losing his lower right leg in a shark attack in 2006, while trying to save his little brother, Tariq.

READ: 'Shark boy' swims for Paralympic glory

Despite his amputation, the 34-year-old never gave up and started swimming competitively after the accident and qualified for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

Hassiem announced his retirement on Instagram, saying: “Today, It brings me great sadness to make the choice of finally hanging up the cap and goggles. But I am also happy for I have achieved so much in my swimming career over just 10 years.

The highlight being every time I donned the green and gold of South Africa and knowing that I carry the flag (of) our nation proudly. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all who have supported me throughout these years, my sponsors, my parents, family and my friends. Thank you SASCOC and Swimming South Africa.

At his final Paralympic event, Hassiem finished 5th in the first heat of the 100m freestyle in a time of 58.25 and failed to qualify for the final.

He also failed to qualify for the finals in the 100m butterfly by finishing 8th place with a time of 1:00.96.

Hassiem participated in three Paralympic Games and got a bronze medal in the 100m butterfly at the 2012 London Games.

... AND THATS A WRAP! In 2006 i lost my lower half of my right leg in a Shark attack in Muizenberg during a lifesaving training exercise while saving my younger brother. I then made a choice to not give up on my dreams wanting to represent my beautiful country. This dream was inspired by Natalie Du Toit (Multiple Paralympic World Champion and Olympian). Today, It brings me great sadness to make the choice of finally hanging up the cap and goggles. But i am also happy for i have achieved so much in my swimming career over just 10 years. 3 Paralympic games, a bronze medal in London, a few World Championships and many other internationals, but the highlight being everytime i dawned the green and gold of South Africa and knowing that i carry the flag our nation proudly. Id like to take this opportunity to thank all who have supported me throughout these years, my sponsors, my parents, family and my friends. Thank you sascoc and swimming South Africa. Thank you to my amazing "pit crew" at HPC and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. Without you all my career would not have been possible. To my Coach Brian Button you are the best Coach ever and i cant thank you enough for everything. You've made me the swimmer i am today. To my trainers Wayne Lombard and Niel Michau thank you for putting up with all my whining and being more than just trainers, but brothers! I am a world class athlete today because of you. To the Macsteel Maestros program and Gill Taylor for taking me into your program shortly after my Shark attack and believing in me that i could be the athlete i am today. And most importantly Thank you to the All Mighty above, for giving me all these opportunities to show the world who i am. Theres been highs and lows, but today in this Paralympic village i reflect on those highs and smile, for i have lived a sporting career that some people can only dream of! Ive gone from being a Shark attack survivor to Paralympic medalist. Just shows you that nothing is impossible with the right attitude! I now move on to the next chapter in my life and leave this one behind with a smile. Thank you everyone! ? Love Achmat Sharkboy Hassiem #teamsa #teamSArise #sharkboy

A photo posted by Achmat Hassiem (@achmathassiem) on

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