Wednesday 24 May 2017

WATCH: Half-Irish surfer to make return to major competition after 'miracle' escape from shark in 2015

Independent.ie Newdesk

Around two years after surviving a shark attack on live television, champion surfer Mick Fanning is planning on making a return to the competition where the incident took place.

The Australian athlete, whose mother and father are Irish, was seen fighting off a shark with his bare hands during 2015's World Surf League in South Africa.

Althought the three-time world champion emerged from the water physically unharmed, he only competed in five events during 2016.

Now, Mr Fanning, who previously described his escape as a "miracle", feels he has recovered enough to compete full-time again.

"It was nice to have 2016 off somewhat and decompress but I'm excited to put the singlet on again," the surfer said.

"Let the show begin. It's going to be an incredible year."

Fanning was competing against fellow Aussie Julian Wilson in the final of the JBay Open, the World Surf League event at Jeffreys Bay on South Africa's east coast, when he was bumped off his board by a shark.

In a video of the event posted on the World Surf League website, Fanning could be seen scanning the water before a big fin emerged behind him. He turned to deal with the shark, and then lost his board as a wave rolled in and he disappeared from view.

Wilson was paddling towards Fanning and later said that he believed if he could get there with his board, he would at least have a weapon to distract the shark, which he estimated was at least twice the size of Fanning.

Fanning said at first he tried to swim away but then decided to defend himself, and turned to punch the shark in the back. He was next seen furiously swimming towards a boat, where he was helped out of the water and back to shore.

He recounted the events immediately to fans gathered around him on the beach, and only later, when the adrenalin subsided, did the tears kick in as he realised just how close he had come to serious injury or death.

He later said he felt so "insignificant" compared with the size and speed of the shark, but did not hold any grudges against the predator because he knew "we are in their domain".

"Thanks for not eating me," he said, joking about his interaction with the shark.

Online Editors

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport