The first thing I notice when Sam Bloom’s voice drifts over the phone is just how warm and chatty she is, basking in the sun after a surf with her husband Cam. For most people, surfing is something of an unremarkable activity but for Sam, fresh off the high of her gold medal at the inaugural Adaptive Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour in Hawaii, every moment in the water (especially those she now has on her own) is a sign of just how far she’s come.
In 2013, Sam was injured in a freak accident that left her paralysed from the chest down, while on holiday with her family in Thailand. The story of her life since that accident and the unlikely bond her family developed with an injured magpie in the aftermath was the basis for the brilliant film ‘Penguin Bloom’ with Sam played by Naomi Watts.
Almost 10 years on, she says the accident transformed her into a different person as she navigated her new world, her new body and the guilt she felt at now being a ‘different Mum’, one who couldn’t run after her kids or help them in the ways she was used to.
For Sam, always an active person, sport remained her saviour. It gave her a purpose, a power and a place in a global sporting community. Now Sam has her sights set on the Sydney Disability Expo, held on the 5th & 6th of August where she will share her story and hopefully empower other people with disabilities to find their purpose (which doesn’t have to be limited to sport), something she calls incredibly important, especially for those who’ve acquired their injury/disability recently.
Her other advice? Be kind to yourself, realise you can still have fun even if it looks a little different to what it used to, and know that in time the world will be full of possibility again.