Australian surfer Mick Fanning survived a shark attack -- the first ever at a surfing competition -- at the J-Bay Open in South Africa on July 19.
Mick Fanning just survived a shark attack on Sunday.
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According to a July 18 ESPN update, the Australian surfer was not hurt during the incident, which occurred at the J-Bay Open at Jeffreys Bay off the coast of South Africa.
A press release from the World Surf League (WSL) says this was the first ever shark attack in any surfing event. Fanning was in the water with fellow Australian Julian Wilson just minutes into the final round of the competition when the shark surfaced. Rescue boats picked up the two men immediately.
The attack was seen on live television. The Sydney Morning Herald's Josh Dye reported on July 20 the shark emerged from behind as Fanning was sitting on his board. Fanning said he escaped unharmed after he "punched (the shark) in the back."
Witnesses spotted the shark half an hour after it attacked Fanning. There could also have been a second shark involved, per The Syndey Morning Herald.
Dye spoke with Fanning to get his exclusive take on the shark attack:
"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.
"I was just about to start moving and then I felt something grab (and) get stuck in my leg rope. And I instantly just jumped away and it just kept coming at my board. I was just started kicking and screaming. Wow!
"I just saw fin, I didn't see the teeth. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me as I was swimming."
The 34-year-old Fanning, a three-time world champion, added more details when he spoke with ESPN:
"All of the sudden, I just had this instinct that something was behind me. And then all of the sudden, I felt like I started getting pulled underwater. Then the (shark) came up, and I was on my board and it was like right there, and I saw the whole thing thrashing around.
"I was getting dragged under my leg wrap, and then I felt like it kicked me off, but it was still there, and I was still attached to my board. I felt like it was dragging my underwater, and then my leg wrap broke, and I started swimming and screaming."
Fanning then tells The Syndey Morning Herald he won't compete in a surfing competition again.
"I'm happy to not even compete ever again. Seriously, to walk away from that, I'm just so stoked," he told the paper.
Wilson was just as emotional when he spoke with Dye:
"It came up and he was wrestling it, and I saw he got knocked off his board.
"I was like, 'I've got a board, if I can get there I can stab it or whatever, I've got a weapon.'"
The World Surf League issued a statement on Fanning's shark attack on Sunday:
"We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today. Mick's composure and quick acting in the face of a terrifying situation was nothing short of heroic and the rapid response of our Water Safety personnel was commendable -- they are truly world-class at what they do.
"The safety of our athletes is a priority fo 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."
Fanning and Wilson met with WSL commissioner Kieren Perrow after the incident. They both agreed to take second place and share the prize money, per WorldSurfLeague.com.
In a separate World Surf League update, Perrow and his team decided that Brazil's Adriano de Souza will retain the yellow jersey and the world's top ranking. de Souza will retain his status entering the Billabong Pro Tahiti next month.
Should de Souza lose in next month's competition, Wilson could possibly snag the yellow jersey, per WSL.
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