Elysium: Meet Australia’s Own Max Da Costa


To celebrate the Universal Sony DVD release of the 2013 blockbuster Elysium, CraveOnline went one-on-one with Paul de Gelder, the Australian Navy clearance diver who swam away from a severe shark attack.

Set in 2154, Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) is near death and without much of a chance to survive on a decimated Earth. Los Angeles is rife with poverty and crime, pushing its inhabitants to their absolute limits for survival. Matt Damon's character suffers a life threatening set back, but is able to fight back against the privileged society living on the space station Elysium and the class divide they govern through his own resilience and determination.

Participating in an Australian Navy counter terrorism exercise in Sydney Harbour in 2009, Paul de Gelder was attacked by a massive bull shark, leaving him without one of his legs and one of his arms, and fighting for his life. Refusing to be a victim of the cards he'd been dealt, Paul was doing one-arm pushups and tenaciously working at rebuilding himself just days after his surgery. 

"I knew I'd been hit by something, but I thought it was a piece of driftwood," Paul said of the potentially fatal encounter with the shark.

The bull shark inflicted a couple of crippling injuries to Paul's body, but his survival instincts and will to push on kicked in immediately.

"When I first saw my arm I thought 'that's not good', but I knew I had to get to that boat to survive.

"The training I've done allowed me to deal with the shock I knew I had to get out of the situation."

CraveOnline had a chance to meet Australia's very own Max Da Costa- Paul de Gelder.

Paul took us one of his grueling workouts, breaking us down to experience the level of fitness required in the Navy. We're happy to report our run times meant we qualify for Navy consideration, but were far away from reaching the mark needed to become a Clearance Diver. Check out the video below.

Paul is now a motivational speaker, travelling around Australia telling his story and inspiring others to not let the things of this world stop you from reaching your full potential. He says that “pain is just pain, and it will never kill you”, which we’ve now learnt.


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