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JEFFREYS BAY, South Africa – It wasn’t what three-time world surfing champion Mick Fanning expected to be doing during a competition: fighting off a shark on live television.
The attack happened during the 2015 J-Bay Open heat in South Africa. The 34-year-old Aussie surfer was in the water with his surfboard when a fin broke through the water near him. The shark then attacked him, according to our sister station Fox CT.
“I was just sitting there and I felt something just get stuck in my leg rope, and I was kicking, trying to get it away,” Fanning told Fox Sports. “I instantly just jumped away. It kept coming at my board and I was kicking and screaming. I just saw fins. I was waiting for teeth. I punched it in the back,” he said.
Rescuers pulled Fanning out of the water, unharmed.
The competition was canceled after the close call.
“The safety of our athletes is a priority for the WSL and, after discussions with both Finalists, we have decided to cancel the remainder of competition at the J-Bay Open. We appreciate the ongoing support we have in South Africa and once again want to express our gratitude to the Water Safety Team,” WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow said in a statement.