World champion surfer Mick Fanning announces retirement

Mick Fanning's career in surfing has been a wild ride.A three-time world champion, winner of 22 surfing events...

Posted: Feb 28, 2018 2:36 PM
Updated: Feb 28, 2018 2:36 PM

Mick Fanning's career in surfing has been a wild ride.

A three-time world champion, winner of 22 surfing events, he's overcome career-threatening injuries and profound grief. He's even punched a shark.

Fanning will surf competitively for the last time at the Rip Curl Pro

"It's been a rollercoaster," says Fanning

But the 36-year-old dubbed "White Lightning" for his speed on the board is calling it a day, admitting in an Instagram post on Wednesday that he had lost the "motivation and dedication to compete."

"I feel like I've just lost the drive to compete day-in day-out now," said Fanning, who will surf competitively for the last time at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, which starts on March 29.

"I'm just not enjoying it as much as I was in the past. I still love surfing, and I'm still super excited by it, but I feel that's there's other paths for me to take at this stage in my life."

In 2015, the wave Fanning caught at Jeffrey's Bay became one of his career defining moments as he famously fought off a shark -- though miraculously he was unharmed.

The shark did little damage to Fanning though it did bite through his leg rope and caused some damage to his surfboard.

"I had this feeling that something was behind [me], and all of a sudden I felt like I started getting pulled underwater. And then the thing came up and I was on my board and it was right there," he said.

"I had this thought, 'What if it comes around for another go at me? Before I knew it, the boat was there... I can't believe it, I was tripping out. I'm totally tripping out."

It was his competitor Julian Wilson's account of the incident which revealed Fanning's close call with death.

"I saw him get knocked off his board, I came over the wave and his board was over here and he was swimming that way, and I thought it was going to grab him and take him under."

'Peaks and valleys'

As colorful as Fanning's career may have been its not always been plain sailing as he experienced increased public scrutiny when he lost his two brothers and also the break up of his marriage in 2015.

Fanning also suffered a complete hamstring tear in 2004 setting his career back with surgery and intense rehab.

"It's been a rollercoaster for sure, you have your peaks and valleys, but when I look back on my time on tour it's all amazing memories," he said.

"From building myself up to compete, to heat wins and event wins, celebrating with friends and just seeing places I never thought I'd even get to."

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