Bethany Hamilton – courage personified

This is what sport is all about!

This is a story that should inspire young people, particularly young women, all over the world.

Bethany Hamilton, one armed surfer, recently entered the Fiji Pro Surfing Championship as a wildcard and finished third after beating the world’s no. 1 in the finals.

In 2003, aged 13, Hamilton was attacked by a shark and lost her left arm.

Born in Hawaii, she was always a keen surfer. On the day in question, she was with her friend at Tunnels Beach, Kauai waiting on her board for the next wave. Her arm was in the water when she was attacked by a 4.5 metre Tiger shark. Her arm was severed below her shoulder.

She was rushed to hospital but had lost a lot of blood and was in shock. Her father, coincidentally, was scheduled to have knee surgery but she took his place in the operating theatre.

Determined to pursue her passion, she returned to surfing three weeks after the attack. Initially she used a differently weighted board and increased the strength in her kicking to make up for her missing arm. She now uses conventional boards.

In 2011, her story was captured on film with the successful release of Soul Surfer, featuring Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid.

At the recent Fiji Pro event, Hamilton beat six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore and world number one Tyler Wright before losing to the winner, France’s Johanne Defay, in the semi-finals.

She met her husband Adam, a youth minister, in 2012 and they were married the following year. Their son was born in 2015. Both husband and son watched mum from the beach as she asserted her authority on the world circuit.