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Wednesday 7 December 2016

‘I haven’t a scratch’ – surfer Mick Fanning after shark attack ordeal

Australian surfing champion Mick Fanning smiles during a press conference in Sydney, Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Australian surfing champion Mick Fanning smiles during a press conference in Sydney, Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Mick Fanning of Australia is attacked by a shark during the finals of the J-Bay Open in Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa, in this July 19, 2015 handout courtesy of World Surf League

A surfer who fought off a shark with his bare hands during a competition in South Africa has returned home to Australia “without a scratch on me”.

Mick Fanning (34) appeared at a news conference in Sydney before heading home to the Gold Coast with a story he will be telling for the rest of his life.

“It was so close. I’m doing okay, though,” Fanning 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 (inset).

In 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.

Wilson has been nominated for a bravery award by the Queensland state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Fanning is in total agreement with that, saying: “He just gave all regard up for himself, and came for me. He was so brave – like a warrior.

“Thanks, bud.”

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