Who is Bethany Hamilton?
Hawaiian born Bethany Hamilton is the real life inspiration behind the major surfing film of 2011, Soul Surfer.
Born in 1990, Bethany was given her first surfboad at an early age by her parents, Thomas and Cherilyn Hamilton, who were both keen surfers. Having shown a natural talent for the boardsport from an early age, Hamilton entered and won her first surfing competitions when she was just eight years old. Starting with the “push and ride” division of a contest hosted by surfing giants Quiksilver, and followed closely by her first major competition, O’ahu’s Rell Sunn Menehune contest.
By the time Bethany was nine years old she was competing seriously in a variety of surfing tournaments, and had an insatiable dream of becoming a professional surfer. By the age of twelve she found herself on the National Scholastic Surfing Association circuit, and was sponsored by Ripcurl.
Hamilton’s life was changed forever on the morning of the 31st October 2003, when during an early morning surfing session at Tunnels Beach, Kauai she was attacked by a 14 foot Tiger Shark. The tiger shark bit Bethany’s left arm which was dangling in the ocean, ripping it off just below the shoulder, and bit right through her beloved surfboard. Her friends helped her back to shore and took her to hospital where it was revealed that she had lost 60% of her blood.
Life after (near) Death
After this horrific and near fatal accident it would be reasonable to expect that the ocean would be the last place Bethany Hamilton would like to go back to. However after spending just seven days in hospital following her ordeal, she was desperate to get back out into the sea. Less than a month after the shark attack, Bethany was back in the water with a surfboard!
At first Hamilton used a custom made surfboard to help compensate for her missing limb. But after a period of practise and perseverance she found that she was able to surf at competition standard again, and even revert back to short boards.
In 2005, two years after her accident Bethany took part in the National Scholastic Surfing Association championship, a competition she had been desperate to win long before the attack…and took first place.
Since 2008, Hamilton has been competing full time on the surfing World Series. On top of this she has had a book published – ‘Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board’, a documentary made – Heart of a Soul Surfer ,and her story is now featured in the Hollywood movie Soul Surfer.
You can find other things which Bethany has been involved with below: