Australian surfer who fought off shark learns of brother's death before competition
World champion Mick Fanning recounts how he bare-handed wrestled with shark and lived to tell the tale after returning to Australia.
The Associated Press
Published Thursday, December 17, 2015 2:25AM EST
SYDNEY, Australia - Mick Fanning, who survived a shark attack in South Africa in July, decided to keep competing at the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii to pursue his fourth world surfing title despite learning of the death of his brother on Wednesday.
Before entering the water for competition, Fanning was told his 43-year-old brother, Peter, had died back in Australia.
"It's kind of heavy to talk about right now," the 34-year-old Fanning said early in the day. He won his next two heats to reach the quarterfinals.
No cause of death was given for Peter Fanning. Another brother, Sean, was killed in a car accident in 1998.
Later, Fanning posted on Instagram a childhood school photo of him and his three brothers, saying he and Peter had recently seen each other.
"He told me how proud he was of me and how much he loves watching me compete," Mick Fanning said in his post. "Today was one of the most challenging days of my life, but I knew I could find the strength to take part in the final event of the season because that's what Pete would want."
A YouTube video of Fanning punching and fighting off a shark while competing at the J-Bay Open at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, has been viewed more than 22 million times.