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Surfer escapes shark attack on live TV

JEFFREY’S BAY, South Africa (Reuters) — Australia’s triple champion surfer Mick Fanning survived a shark attack in the final of the World Surf League’s J-Bay Open, fighting off the predator with his fists before returning safely to shore.

"I was just sitting there and I felt something just get stuck in my leg rope, and I was kicking trying to get it away," said Fanning. "It kept coming at my board and I was kicking and screaming. I just saw fins. I was waiting for the teeth."

After the shark apparently swam away, the three-times world champion was picked up by a support craft.

"We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today," the World Surf League (WSL) said in a statement. "Mick’s composure and quick acting in the face of a terrifying situation was nothing short of heroic and the rapid response of our water safety personnel was commendable.

"The safety of our athletes is a priority for the WSL and, after discussions with both finalists, we have decided to cancel the remainder of competition at the J-Bay Open."

South Africa’s waters are among the most shark-infested in the world. A swimmer was killed by a shark close to Jeffrey’s Bay in 2013.

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