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“That Can Change Your Whole Life”: WSL Champ, Who Nearly Died on Live TV, Detailed Path to Surfing Success

Published 12/01/2022, 5:15 PM EST

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Former Australian surfing legend Mick Fanning was once attacked by a great white shark during the J-Bay Open finals in Jeffreys Bay. The incident later circulated on live TV. It did not just daze his family members but also his fans and the surfing community.

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Even after such a life-threatening incident, the surfer never thought about quitting the sport. During an interview, he revealed the reason behind his success and viewing life.


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Mick Fanning owes his success to the people he grew up with

In 2016, in a unique discussion with Stab Magazine, surfing legends Mick Fanning and USA’s John Florence had a candid chat with each other via an online video chat. Both surfers talked about their various surfing experiences and what inspired them to keep going.

While discussing the same, Fanning revealed that his fellow surfers from childhood helped him become a great surfer. “I always felt like I wasn’t as talented as you know, especially the guys. I grew up with Parker and Bingo, so I had to figure out ways to debate them on a different level,” he recalled.


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Fanning felt like he had to constantly keep improving and fighting to be the best among others, and that played a huge role in being the best even at the professional level. He said, “And so that was something I really dive into just that 1-2%, especially in those super clutch moments, that can change a whole year, that can change your whole life. Yeah, something that I put down a lot of my success.”

Fanning’s words proved how the Australian legend had found the gut to keep surfing even after surviving a deadly shark attack. In short, legends never stop!

What happened at Jeffreys Bay?


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In 2015, Fanning was competing at J-Bay Open in South Africa. It was the sixth event on the World Surf League Championship Tour. The winner of this event was going to take the lead on the leaderboard of the title race.

A confident Fanning dived into the ocean, aiming for a first-race finish. However, around four minutes into the race, a white shark appeared out of nowhere. A panicked Fanning punched and kicked the ocean creature and nearly escaped from getting eaten by the shark.


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The footage of the incident soon started doing rounds on the internet and live TV. Fanning’s mother was shocked after watching the video. Even after being moved by such a dangerous accident, Fanning came back and surfed until 2018.

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Written by:

Soumya Bontra


One take at a time

Soumya Bontra is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. She has been working as a sports journalist and writer for the past two years. Soumya has a Bachelor’s in Mass Media.
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Edited by:

Pritam Priyedarshi