Just three years after a tiger
shark severed her left arm, Hamilton,
at Victoria's Phillip Island for the Roxy Women's Pro, is blitzing
the professional surf scene. The talented 16-year-old took time
out from her professional commitments this week to offer former
Mt Gambier boy Zac a word of encouragement as he recovers from
a vicious white pointer assault that left him without a leg.
Bethany told him she drew strength from her faith.
"That's where I think I got my
ability to go back out surfing,
to do it again – you just try to keep a positive attitude,"
Zac, 15, told how he plans to
hit the waves on a body board
at the scene of his attack, Wharton Beach, on Western
Australia's south coast.
"It's happened," he said of the
attack. "I don't think it's going
to happen again. I just can't wait to get back there –
it's a great wave."
Zac lost his right leg above
the knee and a chunk of his left calf
when the shark bit into him at his local break on
His big brother Sam, 26, with
whom he had been surfing at the
time, wrenched him from the shark's jaws and swam him to shore
before two passers-by rushed Zac to hospital.
"I remember seeing a tail and
a fin after the attack,
then I looked down and it registered straight away – my leg was
gone," Zac recalled. He told how three days afterwards,
his missing leg washed up on the beach not far from the scene,
horrifying the tourists who found it.
Zac has endured a rigorous rehabilitation regime in hospital.
But on Friday he used his new
crutches to limp on to the beach
for the first time since being discharged from Royal Perth Hospital's
Shenton Park Rehabilitation Ward on Thursday.
Zac and Bethany talked about
surf, sharks and how to overcome
the physical and emotional turmoil of losing a limb. Zac, who
has put his plastering apprenticeship on hold, has learned that
progress is a case of mind over matter.
"It was just really positive,
no negative thoughts –
don't get down or anything, just do it, go for it, don't hold
back at all," he said. Bethany, who rates the breaks of Australia
and Indonesia among her favourites, lost her arm on the north
shore of Hawaii's Kauai on the morning of Halloween 2003 when
she was 13. She had heard of Zac's ordeal even before
"I had heard about the shark,
she said. "I was definitely
just bummed for him because I don't like the idea of someone
else having to go through such a gnarly thing."
The champion junior athlete,
who has been surfing since she
was five, said her injury would never douse her
passion for the sport.
"It's always going to be there
but being in the ocean
definitely helps me," she said.
"I love surfing, I love competing
and I'm just going to do
my best and try to become a professional surfer; if it works
out, I'll just keep surfing."
For Bethany, surfing is an addiction.
"Take tennis, for example," she
said. "You hit the ball back
and forth. I've played it and I think it's fun. But surfing is
like there's different waves and it's always like a new day, and
just the adrenalin rush is different from any other sport out there."
While she never doubted she would
revisit the surf, she was
cautious about committing to her previous goal of making
the professional tour.
Bethany, named ESPN's 2004 Athlete
of the Year, was
eliminated from the Roxy Pro on Thursday, taking her
overall junior professional ranking to five in the world.
CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO
THESHARKDOCTOR - THE BEST
SHARK JAWS IN CYBERSPACE