Fear is in the eye of the beholder, by Dan Green
It was a perfect day for surfing off the coast of Maui. A 13 year old surfing protégé had just
finished riding a twenty foot wave and was lying face down on her surf board. Preparing to paddle
out to catch another wave, her thoughts of becoming a professional surfer shifted in an instant.
Without warning, she felt a tug on her left arm and in a split second she realized that she’d been
attacked by a shark. As she struggled to gain her composure she realized something even more
horrifying – the fourteen foot tiger shark had bitten clean through her board, taking her left arm
in a single bite. At that moment in time, survival and not surfing became a priority.
Bethany Hamilton learned to surf at the age of 4. When she was 8, she entered her first contest
and won both of the events that she competed in. At the age of 10 she placed 1st in the “11-under girls”,
1st in the “15-under girls,” and 2nd in the “12-under boys” division at the Volcom Puffer Fish contest.
She was determined to become a professional surfer and was certainly on track to make it happen.
Then, in one violently swift moment on that fall day in 2003, it seemed her dreams would be shattered.
However, Bethany was born with the heart of a lion and the competitive spirit of a thoroughbred. She
was determined to return to the water to surf. Leaning on support from her friends, family and her
faith in god, Bethany recovered rapidly and within ten weeks from the attack was surfing again.
Convinced she could overcome her physical challenge, she worked hard to learn to surf around her
But she also had to overcome the psychological fear of another attack. Bethany would face her fears
by singing and praying when she was out on the water. Incredible as it seems, less than a year from her
attack, Bethany returned to competition taking fifth place at the national surfing Championships and
first place at the first event for the Hawaii national scholastic surfing Association. She was recognized
by ESPN in 2004 and received an ESPY award for Best Comeback Athlete of the year. Bethany’s ability to
overcome her physical and mental challenges puts her in an elite class of achievers.
Today Bethany continues to compete at a world-class level. But she has also dedicated her life to making
a difference in the lives of others by donating her time to caused based initiatives.
She continues to choose to...Finish Strong.
Excerpted from the book Finish Strong, Amazing Stories and Inspiration by Dan Green