Former South African Paralympic medal-winning swimmer Achmat Hassiem is in a coma in a Western Cape hospital after undergoing surgery.
His former high school, Bergvliet High School, confirmed the news in a Facebook post.
“As a school, we are proud of our Paralympic and Eco Warrior hero, winner of a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, and we therefore call on the entire Bergvliet High community to lift him and his family up in your prayers.”
“He needs our prayers to overcome perhaps his biggest challenge. We believe that the power of prayer will lift him out of the coma so that he can begin his road to recovery,” said Bergvliet High School (BHS) principal Stephen Price.
Hassiem was nicknamed “Sharkboy” after losing his lower right leg in a shark attack in 2006 while trying to save his younger brother, Tariq, while training for lifesaving exams at Muizenberg beach.
Following his amputation, Hassiem started swimming competitively and qualified for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.
Hassiem also represented South Africa at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, where he competed in the 100-metre butterfly and the 100- and 400-metre freestyle events. He won a bronze medal in the 100 metre butterfly, setting a new African record of 57.76 seconds in the final.
He retired from competitive swimming after competing at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in 2016.