Mick Fanning’s path to surfing greatness has incorporated all the attributes of a champion. He has overcome personal tragedy, career-threatening injury and one of sport’s greatest competitive dynasties, in the form of American Kelly Slater, to reach surfing’s highest echelon three times.
In his first year on tour, aged 22, Mick finished an incredible 5th in the world, earning him the ASP Rookie of the Year award. In 2003 Mick climbed one step higher and finished 4th and many thought 2004 would be Mick’s year. However, a catastrophic freesurfing injury changed everything. Mick ripped his hamstring clean off the bone, was out of action for six months and left questioning whether he’d ever again surf competitively. His comeback to the world tour was a stirring win in front of 20,000 fans at his homebreak, Snapper Rocks.
Mick then put together one of the most impressive competitive seasons of all time, winning three events, finishing runner-up in another and making four semi finals. His incredible effort in 2007 saw Mick become the first Australian to usurp Slater for a world title in 15 years. The first person Mick thought of when he won was his beloved brother, Sean, who died tragically in a car accident when Mick was just 16 and he dedicated this achievement to him.
In 2009, Mick clawed his way from nowhere to catch runaway ratings leader, Joel Parkinson, one of his best friends, to capture Title number two. He climbed to the top again in 2013, collecting his third World Title ahead of Slater in one of the sports most thrilling title showdowns.
In 2014 he finished runner-up to eventual World Champion Gabriel Medina, falling just short in the season’s final event.