Stab Magazine | Mick Fanning’s Mum on her son’s near-death encounter
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Mick Fanning’s Mum on her son’s near-death encounter

We watched a hero get knocked from his board last night by a shark. But, imagine if it was your son getting attacked live on television. “I was absolutely terrified, absolutely terrified,” Mick Fanning’s mum, Liz, told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I thought we’d lost him because the waves came and we couldn’t see him. “But he […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

We watched a hero get knocked from his board last night by a shark. But, imagine if it was your son getting attacked live on television.

“I was absolutely terrified, absolutely terrified,” Mick Fanning’s mum, Liz, told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I thought we’d lost him because the waves came and we couldn’t see him.

“But he was so brave. It was like slow motion, I just couldn’t imagine him coming out of it because we’d already been told earlier in the night that there were boats out there with sounders to make sure there were no sharks around, and this one was there.”

Sounders are how fishermen see exactly what’s beneath the surface. They shoot sound waves from the boat to the ocean floor and it then reproduces the depths and presence of fish on a small, digital screen. Yesterday it was looking for the big ones… but missed one.

“I spoke to him last night, soon after,” says Liz. “He’s fine. Very shaken, very, very shaken.

“I was too overwhelmed to even think about what was going on for Mick, I just saw my boy going down. You know, that was absolutely terrifying… because I have lost a son before.”

Older brother Sean Fanning was killed in a car accident in 1998 when Mick was 16. Mick’s since had encounters with wildlife in the ocean which he’s put down to a supernatural connection, long believing Sean’s ridden on his shoulders to his three world titles. His spirituality sure went a long way yesterday.

“He has always had dolphins around him, but I don’t know, he has never had a shark like that … to see that huge fin…” says Liz, understandably shaken.

Brazil, 2007, when Mick won his first world title there was a single dolphin in the lineup every heat: “It was also a little mystical,” said Mick. “Every time I was in the water for a heat that day, there was a dolphin just hanging around. Every time I paddled out, it was right there. In the end I was just talking to him and he was just chilling out… I’m convinced it was Sean.”

You can just imagine the embrace at Coolangatta Airport when Mick gets home to his mum and family. “I’ll throw my arms around him and hug him so tight and he’ll do the same to me, I know,” Liz says, fighting back tears. And that first surf back on home soil behind the rock will be one equally of comfort and anxiety.

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