Shark attack survivor in World Surf League

Surfing with one arm has required extra strength training. (WSL)

Shark attack survivor in World Surf League

Bethany Hamilton to return to qualify for the World Surf League

Posted on 10.03.2020

Bethany Hamilton says she’ll never compete as a disabled surfer, despite having her left arm completely severed by a tiger shark at the age of 13.

The 30-year-old Hawaiian surfer doesn’t want to be defined by her missing limb and says it has made her a stronger competitor.

“If I thought of myself as disabled I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she said.

“My surfing is at the level of the best of the best so it’s only natural I compete against the best of the best.”

One month after the attack in October 2003 Hamilton returned to the surf and within two years she had won her first national title against able-bodied surfers.

“Once I got my first wave there was no turning back.

“I was on a mission to become the best surfer I could be, regardless of what my body looked like,” she said.

Key points

  • Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a 4-metre tiger shark in Hawaii in 2003
  • She returned to the surf one month after the attack and has a slightly modified board
  • She has announced she’ll be competing on this year’s WSL qualifying series tour

Her key to success is focusing on what she can achieve.

“If I moped around thinking how I only have one arm then I would have had a very different life.

“I approach life in what can I do and I just want to be my best.”

Chloe Hart

ABC News





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