Australian surf champion Mick Fanning has vowed to return to the waves after a "miracle" escape from a shark attack, as he paid tribute to courageous mate Julian Wilson for rushing to help.
The 34-year-old three-time world champion fought off a large shark during the final heat of a world tour event at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa on Sunday, with the dramatic scenes beamed live around the world.
He survived unscathed, with rival and close friend Wilson, also from Australia, furiously paddling towards him to
help despite the danger posed by the shark, which experts suggested was either a bull or a great white.
"I guess someone was looking out for me. To walk away from a shark attack with not a scratch on you, it's a miracle
really," Fanning said on Tuesday after arriving back in Sydney with Wilson, where they were met by a large media team.
"You just count your lucky stars and if there is someone up there looking after us--thanks."
Watch: Surfer Mick Fanning escapes shark attack at competition
Speculation has been rife that Fanning may call it quits after indicating, in the moments after his terrifying ordeal,
that he might not compete again.
Fanning admitted today he was now dealing with "an emotional mental sort of trauma" that would probably take
weeks, if not months, to get over.
But he vowed to get back on his board again. "Surfing has given myself and my family so much. It's
gotten me through the hardest times in my life," he said.
"So to turn my back on surfing, it just wouldn't feel right."
He is even prepared to get back in the waves at Jeffreys Bay. "For sure," he said, when asked if he would compete
there again next year.
Social media went into a frenzy over the dramatic close call, with a YouTube clip of the attack being viewed almost
13.5 million views.
Even Hollywood star Russell Crowe commented on Twitter. "My heart was racing just watching," Crowe posted.