NEAL Stephenson lost his right lower leg in a great white shark attack off Plettenberg Bay 10 years ago, but that has not dampened his adventurous spirit.**
Shark attack survivor Neal dives into new challenges
Timothy Twidle GARDEN ROUTE CORRESPONDENT
NEAL Stephenson lost his right lower leg in a great white shark attack off Plettenberg Bay 10 years ago, but that has not dampened his adventurous spirit.
Stephenson, 22 at the time, was attacked while surfing at Keurboomstrand on May 16, 1998, and suffered severe injuries to both legs. His left leg was saved, but his right leg was amputated above the knee and a prosthesis was fitted.
Since then he has competed both nationally and internationally at the highest level in water sports.
“As a youngster I loved the ocean. I started body-boarding at the age of 14 and represented South Africa on five occasions,” Stephenson said.
He has taken part in adventure challenges such as the Robberg Express and is part of the NSRI volunteer crew.
“I was so close to losing my life that I look back on the whole ordeal as my having been looked after by a higher power, and have moved on with my life, making the most of it.
“I don‘t see myself as disabled. I am competitive and only compete against able-bodied athletes,” he said.
Following the attack, Stephenson took to wave-ski paddling and competed in the World Wave-ski Championships in 2000 and 2001.
He wears a Flexi-sprint prosthesis made for running, but says he finds it “is the perfect shape for the beach”.
He is training for one of the most gruelling wave-ski events, a race from Port Elizabeth to East London in December known as The Challenge.
“I have learnt that with the right attitude, anything is achievable,” said Stephenson.