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Wednesday 24 January 2018

Thanks for not eating me, surfer jokes over shark

Mick Fanning about to be attacked by the shark
Mick Fanning about to be attacked by the shark
Surfer Mick Fanning speaks about the South Africa shark attack in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

John Pye in Sydney

AN Irish-Australian surfer who fought off a shark with his bare hands in South Africa has returned home "without a scratch on me" - but admits he is emotionally scarred.

Mick Fanning (34), whose father was from Ireland, appeared at a news conference in Sydney before heading home to Australia's Gold Coast with a story he will be telling for the rest of his life.

"Thanks for not eating me," he said, joking about the shark, which is believed to have been twice his size.

"It was so close. I'm doing OK, though," he said. "I haven't got a scratch on me. Just more of an emotional, mental sort of trauma right now.

"To walk away from a shark attack with not a scratch on you - it is a miracle, really."

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.

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 said yesterday 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".

Fanning definitely plans to return to surfing, though he doesn't know when.

Irish Independent

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