More Top Stories


Alleged rapist in remand

27 April 2024

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

One-armed surfer makes semi finals

Wednesday 1 June 2016 | Published in Regional


FIJI – Inspirational woman surfer Bethany Hamilton fell just short of an incredible win against the world’s best at the unforgiving Cloudbreak reef in Fiji.

Hamilton was one of surfing’s hottest prospects and a US junior champion before her encounter with a tiger shark in 2003 where she lost her left arm at the shoulder.

Paddling with just one arm into the solid waves off Tavarua Island, Hamilton progressed through to the semi-finals of the Fiji Women’s Pro before being eliminated by eventual contest winner Johanne Defay of France.

After gaining a wildcard entry into the event, it was the sixth time Hamilton had contested a world championship tour contest but her best result.

On her run to the semi-finals the 26-year-old Hawaiian took down then world number one Tyler Wright, beat Defay and six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore in round three and then eliminated another Australian, Nikki van Dijk, in the quarter-finals.

Despite Wright’s disappointment of an early exit in Fiji, the Australian could not speak highly enough of her rival who was supposed to be disadvantaged paddling into waves with just one arm.

“She’s the greatest human probably ever,” Wright said of her rival and friend.

Hamilton was attacked by a tiger shark as a 13-year-old when surfing in Kauai 13 years ago.

She returned to competitive surfing a year later and her story became the subject of the movie Soul Surfer.

Competing against the word’s best surfers in epic conditions in Fiji, with her husband and baby son watching on, has been a dream come true for Hamilton.

“I was stoked with how I did, it was an incredible experience,” she said.

Her success in Fiji is likely to see Hamilton awarded more starts this year with five events remaining on the 2016 world championship tour.

She has enjoyed the opportunity to challenge herself and her achievements continue to inspire young surfers.

“I am honoured that I can inspire people. I know I am in a unique position to encourage young girls to make great decisions as they grow into women and to chase their dreams.

“Even after losing my arm, I am still doing everything I’ve hoped I could do with my future and even more,” she said,

“I think I am a reminder for the young girls that they can do it if they set their mind to it.”

Defay’s victory in the Fiji final over defending world champion Carissa Moore moves the Frenchwoman into fourth place on the world rankings.

The early exit of Wright in Fiji saw her overtaken at the top of the leaderboard by American Courtney Conlogue.

No Australians reached the semi-finals in Fiji with Sally Fitzgibbons, Laura Enever and van Dijk all eliminated in the quarters.

The next event on the women’s tour will be the US Open in California in late July. - ABC