The wave conqueror: Bethany Hamilton
“Even after losing my arm, I’m still doing everything I hoped I could do. I’m a reminder for young girls that you can do it if you set your mind to it.”
Bethany Hamilton, sponsored by Rip Curl at the age of nine; four years later, the Hawaiian-born surfer was mauled by a tiger shark, and lost her left arm, aged just 13.
Hamilton was surfing with friend, Alana Blanchard, in 2003; she lost 60% of her blood in the attack. It’s reported that fisherman caught the shark, it measured at 14ft, and had Hamilton’s arm in its mouth.
Despite the trauma, Williams was back surfing just one-month later, and competed at the NSSA national championships just a year after the attack.
Not one for sympathy, Williams withdrew her name last year from the Best Female Athlete with a Disability (ESPY).
“[It would have been] rewinding back to square one…
I don’t look at it like, ‘Wow, I did a really good job with one arm.’ It’s just, ‘Wow, I did a good job on that wave.’”
With Hamilton’s disability, she has a handle at the front of the board, which helps her duck dive. Regardless, she still managed to beat Stephanie Gilmore – six-time world champion – and the then ranked number one surfer, Tyler Wright, at the Fiji Women’s Pros competition in 2016.
The movie Soul Surfer was released in 2011 which retold her story; a movie which gained huge traction due to Bethany’s story, and grossed $47,088,990 at the box office. Three years later, she went on to win the Pipeline Women’s Pro competition in 2014.
Hamilton is married, and had a child in 2015; not that it stopped her competing in the WSL Swatch Women’s Pro, and coming 13th just three months after giving birth.
Bethany Hamilton, the wave conqueror and Soul Surfer.
Have a look at Bethany in action…