Shaken Fanning not giving up on surfing despite shark attack

Tue Jul 21, 2015 3:28am EDT
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By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A visibly shaken Mick Fanning arrived home in Australia on Tuesday saying he would not turn his back on surfing despite needing a "miracle" to survive a shark attack off the coast of South Africa at the weekend.

The three-times world champion was paddling out to ride his first wave in the final of the World Surf League's J-Bay Open on Sunday when an unidentified species of shark knocked him off his board.

Fanning, 34, managed to fight off the circling predator with his fists before returning safely to shore, becoming an overnight international celebrity after video of the incident went viral around the world.

While admitting it would take him a while to process the incident -- "maybe a week, maybe a month," he said -- Fanning was determined to get back on his board.

"Surfing's got me through the hardest times in my life, so to turn my back on surfing wouldn't be right," he told a packed news conference near Sydney airport.

"To walk away from a shark attack with not a scratch on you is a miracle really. You just count your lucky stars and if there is someone up there looking out for me, well thanks."

The camera that captured the incident was unsighted by a wave for the second part of the attack and Fanning tried to fill in the gaps.

"If you look at the footage closely, there's more splashing as the wave goes down and that's when it came back for a second go at my board," he added.   Continued...

Mick Fanning of Australia reacts during a news conference in Sydney, Australia July 21, 2015, after he was attacked by a shark during the finals of the J-Bay Open on Sunday in Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa. REUTERS/David Gray