Currently ranked number 3rd in the ASP World Championship rankings, 31 year-old Mick Fanning is preparing for the 2013 ASP World Tour. It hasn't always been smooth sailing (or surfing!) for Fanning with his success peppered with personal tragedy and career-threatening injuries.
MICK'S RISING STAR
As the 2007 and 2009 ASP World Champion, Mick will tell you victory was even sweeter the second time around.
"In 2007 I was a little further ahead of the pack and it hadn’t all come down to the last event so I don’t think I was quite as anxious. Going into the 2009 comp, I was super nervous and I was convinced the battle was going to go right to the end of the event," says Mick.
Success seems to come all too easily to Mick Fanning, who grew up on the Gold Coast. But in truth, he has overcome some monumental hurdles in life and in competition. In 1998, when he was 16, his older brother Sean was killed in a car accident. Sean was just 18 at the time and was also an aspiring pro surfer. Although he was completely heartbroken, Mick stayed true to their dream and continued on his rise as a professional surfer. "Sean is always in my thoughts and, during those big special moments, I always think about him and I think it actually helps me relax a little. A second World Title will make him proud!" says Mick.
In 2002 Mick finished in the top five in his rookie year on the ASP World Tour and was moving closer to the number one spot each season when tragedy struck again. In 2004, Mick tore his hamstring off the bone when he fell trying to execute a critical maneuver. A steel grappling hook was drilled into a bone in the back of his leg to hold his hamstring in place. After six months of intense rehab, Mick was finally able to get back on a surfboard again.
BATTLING THE WORLD'S BEST
A committed training regime saw Mick miraculously return to form and start winning events once again, but a huge challenge was still ahead of him. Since Kelly Slater won his first world title in 1992 no Australian had beaten him for the World Title. In 2007 Mick changed that, winning three events, finishing runner-up in one and making four semi finals. “Kelly’s proven himself to be one of the most superior sportsmen of all time. To have had the opportunity to surf against him and take a world title from him is what makes it all so special to me," says Mick.
In 2008 he struggled with the extra media attention of being a world champion and suffered a mid-season groin injury. He slipped to eighth position on the end of year ratings but, true to form, Mick never gave up. "I decided to compete in the US Open before Trestles and I made the final and that’s kind of when my good roll began," says Mick. "Along with CHEK Australia, I also trained with some of the high performance coaching staff at Red Bull and got a lot from what they had to offer."
Mick knew better than anyone that defending his World Title in 2010 would be no small ask. With good friend Joel Parkinson a hot contender, Mick drew on the strength he developed through facing such difficult challenges both in the water and out. In the end, Mick placed 3rd in the overall standings behind Kelly Slater (1st) and Jordy Smith (2nd).
On 2 November, 2010, tragedy struck again in Mick's world, with the sudden death of fellow surfer and close friend, Andy Irons. It was a loss that rocked the surfing world. “Andy was incredible,” Mick said shortly afterwards. “He was a person that always wore his heart on his sleeve. He was an amazing competitor; he was an amazing friend. I haven’t just lost a friend, I’ve lost my brother here. It’s hard to take.”
No stranger to grief, Mick firmly believes what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. And that makes him a formidable force to be reckoned with in the year ahead.
STORY OF MY LIFE
Mick's biography, Surf For Your Life, was published in 2009, a candid life story, providing intimate insights into the personal lessons Mick has gained along the way, with practical tips on surfing techniques, fitness, nutrition, board design, competitive strategy and mental clarity.
WHITE LIGHTENING STRIKES IN 2012
Fanning lead the way during much of the 2012 ASP World Tour, living up to his nickname 'White Lightning', securing victory at the Billabong Pro Teahupoo and the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. It was only after sustaining a severe gash to his foot during the Billabong Pipeline Masters that Fanning was knocked out of the race for the title.
But a third place world ranking is nothing to sneeze at and White Lightning is set to strike again in 2013.