TAVARUA, Fiji (Monday, May 30, 2016) - Bethany Hamilton (HAW), global sporting icon and shark attack survivor, delivered a ground-breaking performance today at the Fiji Women's Pro to take down World No. 1 Tyler Wright (AUS) and 6-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in excellent conditions at Cloudbreak.
Hamilton, who lost an arm following a shark attack when she was a teenager, is one of the world's most powerful and inspiring surfers and was awarded the wildcard into the Fiji Women's Pro, Stop No. 5 of 10 on the Samsung Galaxy World Surf League Championship Tour.
She caused a huge upset today by defeating current No. 1 on the Jeep Leaderboard, Wright, in Round 2 with a near-perfect 9 point ride and eliminating her from the competition. Hamilton continued her exceptional run of form and went on to defeat 6-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in Round 3. This incredible sporting feat will secure a place in the Quarterfinals for Hamilton and the Fiji Women's Pro is regarded as one of the world's most prestigious surfing events.
Gilmore now moves into Round 4 where she has a second chance at securing a Quarterfinal berth.
“I have so much respect for Tyler,”Hamilton said. “I love her surfing and love her as a human, and I am rooting for her this year. I think she should win a World Title, so I have mixed feelings right now. I am so happy because I have not had a good heat in a while, so this win feels good. The goal was to get one more good wave after my 9.00 becuase I knew that Tyler could easily get a good score. I got that good wave after hers and it sealed the deal.”
After winning three of the first four events (Gold Coast, Margaret River and Rio de Janeiro) and finishing 5th at Bells Beach this year, Wright has established herself as a World Title contender in 2016. Wright's finish at Fiji will be her worst result this season and her second ever 13th place finish.
“Heats like that are enjoyable because they are so close, and it was a great battle with Bethany,” said Wright. “I am stoked because she is the greatest human. I am stoked with the way I surfed and the way I ran my heat. I actually would not change anything about my performance. Over the last few years out here I have made reckless mistakes and I had no intent this year to do that. I was all about turns and doing what needs to be done to get through the heat, and I did that. If the heat went my way, I would be just as happy as I am now.”
Fiji Women’s Pro Finals Results:
Final: Johanne Defay (FRA) 17.10 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 10.70
Semi-Final 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 17.47 def. Bethany Hamilton (HAW) 11.06
Semi-Final 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 10.70 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 16.60
Bethany Hamilton, equal third place in Fiji