Sat, Aug 15, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Surfer ‘excited’ to compete after encounter with shark

AFP, SYDNEY

Australian surf champion Mick Fanning yesterday said he was excited about resuming competitive surfing after fighting off a shark in South Africa, but admitted he was spooked by seeing a fin on his first return to the waves.

The 34-year-old made headlines around the globe when he battled a shark on live television while competing at a world tour event at Jeffreys Bay off South Africa’s Eastern Cape province in the middle of last month.

About a week later, Fanning returned to the ocean off Australia’s east coast to surf when he “saw a shadow go through a wave.”

“I was like: ‘You’re kidding me.’ And I was like: ‘Nah, nah, it’s just a bird, it’s just a bird,’” the three-times world champion said from Tahiti, where he is set to compete in the next leg of the World Surf League Tour this weekend.

However, anxious to catch one more wave, Fanning stayed out on the water, when he “saw a fin just come up and go through the wave.”

“I was just like: ‘Are you for real? What’s going on here?’” he told the tour’s organizers.

The surfer’s return to the water was being filmed by an Australian television program and he admitted he agreed to take his board out at a spot he normally did not surf.

Despite his experiences, Fanning — ranked second on the tour — said he wanted to resume competitive surfing as soon as possible after the attack.

“If you leave it for too long, then your mind starts playing tricks on you,” Fanning said. “It makes the situation worse than what it actually is, and so, yeah, I just really wanted to get back out there.”

Fanning said he was keen to put the South Africa attack behind him, telling Sydney’s Daily Telegraph from Tahiti: “I’m very excited to be back in the water competing.”

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