In 2003, Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a shark and forced to amputate her left arm. Almost two decades later, she has fulfilled her dream of becoming a professional surfer – and has inspired people around the world with her story.
One day nineteen years ago, American Bethany Hamilton, like so many times before, was on her surfboard in search of the next wave. She was thirteen years old and an unusually promising surfer—so good that she planned to make a career in the sport.
An unexpected attack
The water off the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Kauai was clear that day, and no one had seen any sign of sharks nearby. Perhaps this made the attack even more shocking: suddenly a shark appeared from the depths and bit Bethany’s arm.
“My arm was hanging down in the water, and it just came up and bit me,” Bethany later told a local television station. She went on to say that the shark jerked her back and forth, “but I held on to my board, and then it let me go.”
According to Bethany’s father, he did not see the attack: “She just screamed, ‘a shark bit me,'” he said.
Based on the bite the shark took from Bethany’s surfboard, the shark, which was likely a tiger shark, may have been up to 4.6 meters long. The fact that Bethany was so fit probably helped her survive the violent attack:
“This is a well-trained athlete, and thanks to that she can handle losing a lot of blood,” said one of the doctors who performed the amputation of what was left of Bethany’s arm.
“We will all encounter setbacks”
After the attack, Bethany was initially unsure if she would ever want to surf again, but in the end it was only a few weeks before she was back in the water.
“Even though I had been attacked, I was more afraid of losing the surf than of sharks,” she said in an interview with The Guardian 2020.
Today, almost twenty years later, Bethany has not only fulfilled her dream of becoming a professional surfer – she has also released a documentary about her life and published several books in which her faith plays a central role:
“[Gud] not saying that life will be easy and perfect… believing that we will not have any problems paves the way for mental difficulties and the fact is that we will all encounter setbacks. When I lost my arm I was just grateful to be alive and it helped me have a more positive attitude.”
Source: The Guardian