I’ve been following the London 2012 Paralympics online and via newspapers this week. These athletes are amazing – today I’ll highlight a couple of stories.
Achmat Hassiem – South African Swimmer
I first learned about Achmat during a Shark Week show–he talked about how he lost his leg to a great white shark. He and his brother were lifeguards and were out doing a training drill one morning when a shark got close and Achmat took the attack in order to save his brother. He was a soccer player on the national team prior to the attack. And now he’s a decorated swimmer. He won a bronze medal in the men’s 100m butterfly. And he told reporters that he swims fast in the water because he imagines he’s being chased by a shark. You can read more about Achmat’s story online.
Runners and Guides
Tracey Hinton is a blind sprinter. She lost her sight at age 4 – from retinal cancer.
Hinton runs with her guide Steffan Hughes and the two run with their hands tied together, matching their strides and arm movements as closely as possible. It’s tricky to find the right guide. The runners should be near the same height and Paralympic rules require that the runners stay no more than half a meter apart – sometimes bumping shoulders because they are so close. Guides aren’t allowed to push or pull their runners or to cross the finish line before them. I read that most guide runners are male as they have to have the capacity to keep up with the fast women!
Here’s a Brazilian pair who had a devastating run but came back to compete in another track event and win gold.
London 2012 is the first time that guides win a medal along with their partner.
Do you have an inspiring athlete story to share?
A little Friday-Fun video to add here – check out Kira the adorable black lab who swims with dolphins! (Song on the video is by Miike Snow, a Swedish indie pop group – good tunes!) I get a kick out of the dog being so patient in her lifejacket and then sleeping right after her swim.