Mick Fanning, the world champion Australian surfer who once punched a shark as it attacked him during a competition live on TV, is quitting professional surfing.
Fanning yesterday admitted he feels like he has lost his desire to compete and will end his top career at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach classic next month — the scene of his first world tour win 17 years ago.
“I feel like I’ve just lost the drive to compete day in day out now,” Fanning said.
“It’s been something I’ve been doing for 17 years, and even before that through QS (the qualification series ) and juniors, and I feel that I just can’t give it 100 per cent anymore.
“I’m just not enjoying it as much as I was in the past. I still love surfing, and I’m still super excited by it, but I feel that’s there’s other paths for me to take at this stage in my life.
“As for choosing to retire at Bells (in Victoria), I’ve always had in mind that my last event on Tour was going to be Bells.
“That’s basically where I started my career, it was my first ever champion title win, and I feel really connected down there.”
Fanning, 36, who was born in Penrith in Sydney’s west, famously conquered* the surfing world in 2007, 2009 and 2013 when he won the championship titles. He was so quick on the board, he was nicknamed “White Lightning” for his speed and white blond hair.
One of the most famous events in his career was his run-in* with a shark in Jeffreys Bay in South Africa in 2015.
Fanning described the moment when the great white shark came up alongside him.
“I was ready, I was calm, we were there for the final. The last thing on my mind was a shark,” he said.
“I felt like I was just about to start moving and I felt something, a presence of something behind me. I just jumped on my board.
“It came up and went for the tail of my board. I don’t know why it didn’t bite. It kept coming back. I was trying to put my board between us.
“As the wave went, my board was off and I was trying to get to it. Then it came back again, I tried to position myself to the side of it. That’s when I punched it,” Fanning said of his lucky escape.
That brush with the great white scared him greatly, but he overcame his fears to get back in the water at J-Bay the next year to win the tour event.
“It’s been a rollercoaster for sure, you have your peaks and valleys* but you know, when I look back on my time on tour it’s amazing memories — from building myself up to compete, to heat wins and event wins, celebrating with friends and just seeing places I never thought I’d even get to,” he said.
Fanning is expected to remain close to the sport as surfing prepares for its Olympics debut at the Tokyo Games in 2020.
peaks and valleys: highs and lows
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1. Farewell Speech
Use the information about Mick Fanning from the article to write a speech you could give after his last surfing competition. Begin your speech by welcoming everyone to the surfing event and mention why it is a special occasion. Your speech should highlight Fanning’s career achievements and challenges. Ensure you finish by wishing him well for the future.
Extension: Mick Fanning was involved in professional surfing for 17 years. Given that he loves surfing, what are the positives of being involved in this sport at such a high level. What are the negatives? Draw a two column chart and list the positives in one column and the negatives in the other.
Positives – he would have to stay fit and healthy which is good for his body.
Negatives – he would have to spend a lot of time away from family and friends.
Time: Allow 40 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Health and Physical Education
2. What is Surfing?
Even if you are not an expert on surfing you most likely already know some things about this sport. Draw a picture of Mick Fanning (or another favourite surfer) catching a wave.
Write all the things that you know about surfing around the edge of your picture.
What else would you like to know?
Write five questions about surfing at the bottom of your picture.
Extension: Can you find the answers? Do some research about surfing to see if you can answer the questions you have about it.
Time: Allow 40 minutes
Curriculum links: English, The Arts – Visual Arts, Health and Physical Education
Extra Resources: Internet or school library with information about surfing.
With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text? Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb- make sure it still makes the context it was taken from.
Try and see if you can replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.
Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP
IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT TODAY’S STORY
Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting in today’s article. Use lots of adjectives.