For some, it’s hard to imagine being able to surf and cruise the waves the way pro surfers do. For most, it’s nearly impossible to imagine something as horrifying happen to them like what happened to Bethany Hamilton.

In 2003, at just 13 years old, Hamilton survived a brutal shark attack that robbed her of her left arm- and nearly her life.  Most would probably never step foot in the ocean again, or give up on everything completely, but not Hamilton. She hopped back on the board, determined to succeed, just 3 weeks after losing her arm. 

After years of re-training herself, intense physical therapy and exercise, Hamilton has persevered and continued on to become a renowned professional surfer. She just competed in the World Surf League’s Fiji Women’s Pro as a wildcard competitor. 

She came in third place, a career-best for her, after beating out both six-time champion Stephanie Gilmore and world number one Tyler Wright before getting defeated by Johanne Defay of France, in the semi-finals.

Although she didn’t come in first place, Hamilton couldn’t have been more excited:

Despite losing her arm, the only handicap Hamilton uses is a handle on the end of her surfboard, so she can dip under the waves as she is paddling out. 

In 2011, the feature film Soul Surfer was released, which documented Hamilton’s story. She has served as an inspiration to many people and has been recognized as an role model for many young people. 

In an interview with BBC Sport, she exclaimed,  “I know I’m in a unique position to hopefully encourage young girls to chase their dreams…even after losing my arm I’m still doing everything I hoped I could do. I’m a reminder for young girls that you can do it if you set your mind to it.”

Whether it relates to your fitness goals, or if you’ve suffered an accident, Hamilton is living proof that perseverance and a positive attitude can take you anywhere. Check out the video below for highlights from the event.

SEE ALSO: Train Like a Pro Surfer for a Lean Beach Body