Aussie mum becomes surfing champion after sickening fall in Thailand
The incredible recovery story of a mum-of-three who broke her back falling six metres in front of her horrified kids: ‘A purpose and a goal changes everything’
- Sam Bloom fell through a balcony in Thailand in 2013
- She was paralysed from the chest down
- Ms Bloom is a two time para-surfing world champion
A mum-of-three who broke her back after falling six metres off a balcony while on a family holiday in Thailand has since become a two-time World and Australian Para Surfing Champion.
Sam Bloom was 41 years old when she fell through a rotten balcony railing while on a family vacation in Thailand in 2013.
Ms Bloom plunged six metres onto the concrete below as her husband Cameron and children Rueben, 16, Noah, 14, Oli, 12, watched on in horror.
Her husband rushed to help but found her lying unconscious with her head split open. She’d also bitten through her tongue and a massive lump on her back could be seen.
Sam Bloom (pictured) was 41 years old when she fell through a rotten balcony while on a family vacation in Thailand in 2013
The mother-of-three (pictured) fractured her skull in several places, bruised her brain, bit through her tongue, ruptured both lungs and shattered two vertebrae in her spine, which left her paralysed from the chest down
Ms Bloom suffered extensive injuries included a fractured skull, bruising and bleeding of her brain, rupturing both lungs and lacerating her tongue.
Her spine was also shattered at the T6 and T7 vertebrae causing a fist-shaped knot of bone to protrude from her back.
After waiting four hours for an ambulance, Ms Bloom was taken to a local hospital where doctors started stitching up her head wound.
Doctors soon realised the severity of her injuries and rushed her three hours to a private hospital, where she spent three days until her condition stabilised.
After six months of surgery and rehabilitation, Ms Bloom was left paralysed from the chest down never to walk again.
‘Before my accident, I was super active. I’ve grown up by the beaches, so I’ve always surfed and felt really comfortable in the ocean,’ Ms Bloom told Nine Honey.
‘After my accident in 2013 when I broke my back… I don’t have any control. All I have is my arms so I feel quite uncomfortable in the ocean now because I don’t have control.’
Ms Bloom spent a week in a Bangkok hospital before returning home to Australia, where she began a seven-month long hospital rehabilitation.
In a Facebook post marking the 10-year anniversary of the accident, Ms Bloom wrote at times she believes the best version of herself died on the concrete.
However, she never imagined a decade later she would be a two-time world and Australian para-surfing champion competing at a national and international level.
After seven months of rehabilitation at a hospital Ms Bloom decided to try kayaking (pictured)
With the help of family, friends and a modified surfboard, Ms Bloom is now a two-time champion para-surfer (pictured)
Ms Bloom was selected as a captain for the 2022 ISA World Para Surfing Championship Australian team (pictured)
Sam Bloom and her husband Cameron after winning gold at the 2020 World Para Surfing Championship in San Diego (pictured)
She thanked a member of staff working at her rehabilitation centre for recognising her former passion for sport and pushing her to try different types of para-athletics.
Initially, the staff member encouraged her to try wheelchair basketball, but Ms Bloom suggested kayaking instead.
She started paddling once she left rehab as she loved being on the water and out of her wheelchair.
The sport brought Ms Bloom solitude and independence and in 2015 she was selected to compete as part of the Australian ParaCanoe team for the World Championships in Milan.
Five years later, Ms Bloom decided to give para-surfing a go despite her fears of not being able to dive under waves or run up the beach when there’s a ‘big shore dump’.
Ms Bloom tackled her fears with the help of her family, friends and a modified surfboard which has hand grips allowing her to control the board with her arms.
‘It’s awesome, but it’s also frustrating because I would do anything to be able to just run down the beach on my own with my board. But I can’t do that anymore,’ Ms Bloom said.
‘Everybody has a different story and everyone has overcome enormous challenges to get back out into the ocean. When you are talking to other people who have sustained similar injuries, we just get it.
‘We just get how difficult it can be and how hard it is mentally to deal with your new life. But if you have a purpose and a goal and something to aim for, it changes everything.’
In August, 2018, Ms Bloom was selected as a member of the Australian Adaptive Surf Team and won gold for Australia at both the 2019 and 2020 World Para-Surfing Championships.
Ms Bloom (pictured with her son Ruben) also features on limited edition Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars representing the word ‘courage’ for the Cadbury ‘A Cheer & A Half’ campaign
Ms Bloom pictured with her husband Cameron (left) and their three sons Noah, Rueben and Oli
She was announced as a captain for the 2022 ISA World Para Surfing Championship Australian team in November and made it through to the finals after placing fourth in the Prone Non Assist competition.
Ms Bloom also features, along with other sporting icons, on limited edition Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars representing the word ‘courage’ in the ‘A Cheer & A Half’ campaign.
For Ms Bloom, being on the sand with a disability is difficult but her courage comes from being pushed out of her comfort zone and still ‘giving it a go’.
She hopes the campaign will bring attention, donations and volunteers to adaptive sports and wants to inspire other Aussies living with disabilities to give sports a go.
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