OUR friends at Sportsbet.com.au are a charitable bunch and they love a story with a happy ending.
And stories don’t get much happier than escaping from a shark attack without a scratch on you.
Following two time surfing world title winning champion Aussie Mick Fanning’s terrifying tussle with a great white shark while competing in the Jeffreys Bay open final in South Africa – and the selfless actions of his opponent, fellow Aussie Julian Wilson – the bookie has decided that they are both winners.
And that means punters are winners too!
“As a testament to the bravery of both Fanning and Wilson, who paddled over to try and help his mate, and as a sign of good will for those punters who had their hard earned on the final, we’ve paid out on both surfers to win the Jeffreys Bay Open,” the bookie posted on its website.
“Customers will receive half their dividend as per dead heat rules.
“The other half will appear in customers’ ‘My Account’ section as a ‘manual adjustment’.”
The surfers’ split the winning pot 50/50 after they were both pulled from the water before the final could be completed.
Fanning’s dice with death in the wee hours of Monday morning was caught live on camera and had the whole nation talking, with social media erupting with a stream of comedic memes that made light of what could have been a tragic situation.
Back in Sydney today, Fanning and his good mate Wilson, who gave an emotional interview following the frightening ordeal, spoke with media.
Fanning said it was a miracle that he survived the attack without a scratch after the shark made a beeline for the champ and barrelled into him, knocking him from his board.
“It sort of came up and went for the tail of my board,” Fanning said.
“I don’t know why it didn’t bite.
“It just kept coming back.
“I was just waiting for it.
“Once my board was gone I thought that was it.
“To walk away from a shark attack with not a scratch on you, it’s a miracle really.
“You just count your lucky stars.
“I was on top of it, trying to put my board in between us.
“I don’t know if I punched it hard or if they were baby punches.
“I just went into fight or flight.
“I felt so insignificant.
“The thing was so powerful and it just moved so fast.”
A tearful Wilson, Fanning’s good mate, gave an emotional interview after the event and thought his friend was “gone”.
“I honestly froze and … I was kind of freaking out,” Wilson said.
“I came over the wave, praying he would be there and not … with blood everywhere.
“The worst case scenario is in your head.
“I felt like I couldn’t get there in time.
“It was such a horrific feeling.
“It came up, and he was wrestling it, and I saw the whole thing, and then I saw he got knocked off his board, and then, like, a little wave popped up and I just thought, he’s gone, he’s gone under.
”I literally thought, paddling for him, that I wasn’t going to get there in time.
“Especially when I came over the wave and his board was over here and he was swimming that way and I was like, ‘Oh no, it’s going to just grab him and take him under.’
“I was like, I’ve got a board, if I get there I can stab it, whatever, I got a weapon and I don’t know.
”And then he started screaming and I remembered that the boats and stuff were there and we both just started screaming.
“I was paddling for him.”
“I’m just very happy that he’s here.”
A clearly shaken Fanning said the trauma would not be enough to make him quit the sport that had “got me through the hardest times in my life.”
“To turn my back on surfing wouldn’t be right,” he said.
“It sort of goes through waves.
“I’m doing OK though, I haven’t got a scratch on me.
“It’s just like more of an emotional, mental sort of trauma right now.”
He said he would be back at J-Bay in the future, despite the shadow of the shark attack looming.
“It’s a wild animal and it’s got emotions … they make their decision when they’re hungry,” he said.
“J-Bay is such a beautiful place and I’m really sad that it happened there because it is (in the) top three favourite places for me on earth.
“I’ve got to go back.
“It’s going to be hard, but you’ve got to face these things front on.
“I’ll deal with that when I come to it.”