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What are the greatest escapes in sporting history?

MICK Fanning is one lucky boy.

The world champion surfer walked away unscathed after a harrowing encounter with a great white shark in the final of the J-Bay Open in South Africa earlier this week.

The incident was captured live on television and has now been seen by millions all over the world. Be warned – it’s not for the faint of heart.

Besides reminding us that even a legend like Fanning is but a mortal man, it also got us thinking about some of sport’s greatest escapes – both literal and figurative – from the last few decades.

Sportsbet.com.au jumped in to show their love for Fanning and after the incident, offering a ‘justice payout’ for Fanning and fellow Aussie Julian Wilson, who were competing in the final which was cancelled.

If you remember these nervy moments, or if you’ve got a worthy contender in mind for this list, let us know by dropping a line in the comments section below.

Barrichello’s horror crash at 1994 San Marino Grand Prix

The history of Formula One racing is littered with tragic accidents and remarkable near misses.

The 1994 F1 Grand Prix at Imola had more than its fair share of both.

The race is best known for three-time world champion Ayrton Senna, who lost his life when his malfunctioning Williams crashed head-on into the wall on the infamous Tamburello turn.

The much-loved Brazilian was the second casualty at San Marino that year, as Roland Ratzenberger also died after losing control of his Simtek during qualifying the previous day.

But Ratzenberger’s demise wasn’t even the first catastrophic mishap of the weekend.

During Friday practice, a young Rubens Barrichello somehow survived a sickening crash in which his Jordan was smashed to bits after becoming airborne and flipping over a barrier at the Variante Bassa corner.

Although knocked unconscious, Barrichello was revived by the fast work of F1 medico Sid Watkins and would go on to enjoy a strong season in which he became the youngest driver to claim pole position at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Bubba Watson’s 2012 US Masters miracle

To many golfers, the vast majority of the game is spent getting oneself in and out of trouble.

And while the pros usually see fewer bunkers, trees and water hazards than the rest of us, a special few have that uncanny knack for finding a way out of any situation.

Seve Ballesteros was the undisputed master of recovery, but Bubba Watson’s miracle shot at the 2012 Masters Tournament would have made the late, great Spaniard very proud indeed.

Having tied with Louis Oosthuizen after 72 holes to force sudden death, Watson looked in real trouble when he hooked his drive deep into the Georgia pines on the second playoff hole.

Oosthuizen had similar issues and could only dig his ball out just short of the green, thus giving himself a chance to get up and down for par.

But Bubba, a self-taught player of singular shotmaking ability, was having absolutely none of that.

The Floridian southpaw somehow managed the curl a full-blooded wedge shot about 90 degrees up and around the trees from the pine straw, leaving himself just 10 feet from the hole.

That utter worldy of a shot put the pressure right back on Oosthuizen, who missed his par attempt to give Watson an easy two-putt for victory.

West Brom’s great escape in Premier League 2004-05

While the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are off chasing trophies and glory, the last few weeks of the Premier League season are an altogether different affair for those teams at the other end of the table.

The relegation battle is one of the most hard-fought contests in English football, as the also-rans look to ensure their top-flight status and their financial viability for at least another year.

For if you finish in the bottom three places in the EPL, you drop down to the next division – and some teams never come back from that.

There was never a tighter relegation scrap than in the 2004-2005 Premier League season, although one club’s fate had appeared to be sealed several months out from the close of the campaign.

West Bromwich Albion were dead last at Christmas, some eight points away from safety – a position from which no side, since the EPL’s inception in 1992, had ever survived the chop.

But the Baggies hung around, picking up just enough points over the next few months to give themselves the slightest chance of an 11th hour reprieve.

When the last day of the season rolled around, every team in the bottom three was still a mathematical chance to avoid the drop.

West Brom were in last place, needing a victory over Portsmouth and several favourable results elsewhere in order to stay up.

And that’s just what happened. They beat Pompey 2-0, thus leapfrogging Norwich City, Southampton and Crystal Palace at the death to complete the greatest relegation escape in Premier League history.

West Brom are back in the EPL for 2015/16 and is paying $4.50 at Sportsbet.com.au to get relegated. Will they survive again?