Surfing Star and Shark Attack Survivor Bethany Hamilton Impresse - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Surfing Star and Shark Attack Survivor Bethany Hamilton Impresses in Fiji


(ABC) -- For Bethany Hamilton, the professional surfer who gained national attention after she survived a terrifying shark attack more than a decade ago, participating at the World Surf League's Fiji Women's Pro was a dream come true.

"I've just been totally dreaming of surfing, competing here in Fiji," she said recently in a World Surf League interview posted on YouTube. "It's just been a blast."

In October 2003, Hamilton was 13 and a rising star in the Hawaiian surfing community of Hanalei when a 1,400-pound tiger shark attacked her as she surfed with friends.

She lost her left arm, just below the shoulder, and nearly died from loss of blood but was back in the water a month later.

In 2004, Hamilton released a biography titled "Soul Surfer" and in 2011, a movie adaptation of the book opened in theaters. In 2009, she earned the silver medal at the Billabong ASP World Junior Pro championships.

This weekend, Hamilton was invited to the surfing competition in Fiji after earning a wild-card spot. She brought along her husband and young son.

"Even after losing my arm," she said, "I'm still like doing everything I've hoped I could do in my future and even more."

Today, Hamilton reached the semifinals but was eliminated by Johanne Defay. She finished in third place after beating world champion Stephanie Gilmore and top-ranked surfer Tyler Wright.

"I knew once I beat Tyler, I could beat anyone," she told the World Surf League. "At the end of the day, it's just getting it together and catching the right waves and just surfing my best."

Despite the loss, Hamilton said that she was "stoked" with her performance in the competition and that she hoped her story continued to inspire young girls to keep pursuing their dreams.

"I know I'm like in a unique position to hopefully encourage you girls to make great decisions as they're growing into women and also to chase their dreams," she said. "I think I'm just a reminder for the young girls that, 'Hey, like you can do it if you set your mind to it.'"

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