Today marked the last professional event of Aussie legend Mick Fanning‘s career before his retirement, and while he didn’t get the fairytale finish – he was narrowly beaten by Brazil‘s Italo Ferreira in a nail-biting Rip Curl Pro final at Bells Beach – that hasn’t stopped the world paying tribute to just a top bloke who’s had a bloody great career.
Having surfed and won his first Bells Beach comp in 2001 as a wildcard, 36-year-old Mick has since won 22 world surf tour events including 4 at Bells and is a three-time WSP (World Surfing Professionals) world champion.
He’s also rather renowned for that time he punched a great white shark in the waters of Jeffreys Bay, South Africa while he was competing in the final of the J-Bay Open in July 2015.
He managed to escape the encounter unscathed, but took some time off from surfing after his eldest brother Peter passed away in December 2015 and subsequently splitting with wife Karissa Dalton in early 2016.
Tragically, Mick’s elder brother Sean, himself a promising surfer, was killed in a car crash in 1998 aged just 20, so it wasn’t the first time Mick had faced losing a family member. But it’s these personal hardships that make Mick such an Aussie battler, and such a champion in our eyes.
It’s not all about trophies, it’s not always about winning finals. It’s about spirit, and our boy Mick has that in spades. #CheersMick, you bloody legend.
Peep some of the beaut tributes to Mick right here. *wipes tears*
16 years around the globe, 22 Tour wins, 3 World Titles and a finish to remember. Today not only marked the end of an incredible career, but also the beginning of a whole new adventure. #CheersMick @Mick_Fanning pic.twitter.com/HeHMD0idmv
— Rip Curl (@ripcurl) April 5, 2018
3 World Championship titles, 22 World Tour event wins.
— Red Bull Australia (@redbullau) April 5, 2018
— Balter Brewing (@balterbrewers) April 5, 2018
— William Boreland (@WilliamBoreland) April 5, 2018
— Marianna (@marianna_leh) April 5, 2018
Hats off to @Mick_Fanning on an incredible career. Not the fairytale ending at Bells Beach you deserved but congratulations on being a world class surfer and a world class Australian! ???????? #cheersmick
— Adam Ashley-Cooper (@AdamCoopy) April 5, 2018
— Scott William (@scottymathews24) April 5, 2018
— Jaben Ryan (@JabenRyan) April 5, 2018
— Ryan Hanly (@ryanhanly) April 5, 2018
— Paul Newman (@PaulNewman111) April 5, 2018
— Geelong Cats (@GeelongCats) April 5, 2018
Thanks for the memories, mate.
Image: Red Bull / Corey Wilson