A shark attack victim who lost his leg in a terrifying encounter with the apex predator has fought his way back to achieving an incredible fitness record.
Omar Abdelkader, 29, from Egypt, faced a scary brush with death in June 2016 when he was attacked by two sharks.
He was swimming in open waters near the Red Sea city of Ain Sokhna, Egypt, during a boat trip with friends when things took a drastic turn.
Seven years on, he hasn't let his injuries slow him down.
He's at the peak of his physical fitness and has claimed the Guinness World Records title for most muscle ups in one hour – LA1 with 161 repetitions.
شهدت حياة عمر عبد القادر، البالغ من العمر 29 عاماً من مصر، تحولاً غير متوقع عندما تعرض لهجوم سمكة قرش قاتل أثناء سباحته بالقرب من مدينة العين السخنة في البحر الأحمر بمصر. وبعد مرور سبع سنوات على ذلك الحادث، تمكن هذا الشاب من تحدي الصعاب واكتساب مكانة في سجلات العالم، حيث حقق لقب الرقم القياسي العالمي لأكبر عدد من الثنائيات العضلية (مصل أب) في ساعة واحدة بواقع 161 ثنائية. إن هذا الإنجاز المذهل هو بمثابة دليل على صموده وإصراره على التغلب على الصعاب.♬ original sound - Guinness World Records Arabic
Muscle ups are performed by first doing a pull up on to a raised bar and then pushing the body up until the arms are straight.
And LA1 refers to the impairment classification he fits into, something we use to put all record hopefuls on an even playing field.
Omar's incredible feat is a testament to his resilience and determination to overcome adversity.
On that fateful day in June 2016, Omar was enjoying a boat trip with friends when he decided to take a quick swim. Unbeknownst to him, danger lurked beneath the surface and he was bitten by two sharks on his legs and back. The severity of his injuries led to the loss of his left leg from the knee down.
Despite the traumatic experience, Omar remained positive, considering himself fortunate to have survived the attack. The incident made headlines worldwide, highlighting the rare nature of shark attacks and their potential consequences.
Such attacks are rare - “one in a million”, Omar says.
I was the lucky one. And yes, I say lucky because not so many people survive shark attacks.
According to statistics, there were a total of 35 shark attacks in 2016 worldwide.
Five of these attacks were fatal, with three occurring in Australia and 11 in the USA, nine of which were in Florida.
In Egypt, a German tourist was killed by a shark in Al-Qusair in 2015, and more recently, in June 2023, a man died after being mauled by a tiger shark off one of the Red Sea resorts. Disturbing video taken from the beach appeared to show him screaming "papa" as the attack unfolded.
In June and July, female sharks gather together in clear, shallow water where they are approached by males for courtship and mating.
The sharks that attacked Omar were a male of 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) in length and a female that was 2-3 m (6 ft 6 in-9 ft 10 in).
Following the attack, Omar was transported to a hospital in critical condition. His friends and family rallied around him, providing unwavering support during his recovery journey.
During his stay in hospital he met Omar Hegazy, another amputee who had achieved two Guinness World Records titles in swimming. The encounter became a turning point in Abdelkader's life, as the two formed a strong bond of friendship and became a source of inspiration for one another.
“I was conscious and calm, but I was tired. I remember losing a lot of energy in that battle. I was fighting sharks in their environment. I started thinking about my life and my family, and wasn’t sure I’ll be back in time to survive,” said Omar.
I was suffering, the pain was unbearable even with all the pain relievers and medications.
Omar's journey to recovery was challenging, both physically and emotionally. After several months in the hospital and rehabilitation, he travelled to Germany to receive a prosthetic limb and undergo further surgery to alleviate his pain.
Learning to adapt to life as an amputee was no easy task, but Omar remained resolute in his determination to overcome the obstacles before him.
In April 2017, Omar returned to the very beach where the shark attack had occurred. It was a moment of triumph, demonstrating his courage and willingness to face his fears head-on. However, he confessed that the incident had left him a changed man, and regaining confidence in activities such as swimming and riding a bike required a new level of skill and determination.
Despite not being an athlete before the attack, Omar found that the shark attack had unlocked something within him. He decided to embrace his new path and ventured into the world of sports and fitness. His unwavering dedication to pushing his limits led him to achieve this world record title, solidifying his place in history.
Omar's remarkable journey from a shark attack survivor to a world record holder is a testament to the indomitable spirit of the human will. Overcoming adversity, he embraced the opportunities that came his way and proved that true strength lies not just in physical ability but in the resilience of the human spirit.
Those sharks freed me from the cage I was living in. I'm forever grateful to Guinness World Records for being my long-awaited victory. I never imagined having these opportunities for public speaking and sports open to me.
Omar's story continues to inspire countless others to face their fears, break free from the constraints of life's challenges, and forge their own unique paths.
As Omar himself once said: "Don't walk a mile in someone else's shoes – make your own path."
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