Surfing world erupts over Fanning bombshell
Australian surfing legend Mick Fanning has announced he will come out of retirement to compete as a wildcard at this month's World Surf League leg in Narrabeen.
Following a stellar 17-year career, Fanning stepped away from elite surfing in 2018, admitting he could no longer give 100 per cent to the sport.
Kayo is your ticket to the best sport streaming Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
But speaking during the Newcastle Cup broadcast on Friday, the 39-year-old revealed he had committed to the Narrabeen event, which commences next weekend.
.@Mick_Fanning puts the top 32 on notice as the event wildcard for the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic April 16-26th. Watch him in a new episode of Getting Heated tomorrow at 3 pm PST. @ripcurl@rosswilliamshi@coco_hopic.twitter.com/WVNpsZ2KYF— World Surf League (@wsl) April 8, 2021
Fanning said he considered making a comeback last year, but the coronavirus pandemic understandably scrapped plans for a return.
"I'd been tossing up doing another event … last year I was looking at doing J Bay, then the pandemic hit and then this year it would have been 20 years at Bells, and it got cancelled," Fanning said.
"It's now or never, I'm not getting any younger, so why not.
"I'm just going to go and give it my all and maybe upset someone but the guys are so good right now, I'm not holding my breath."
The revelation comes 20 years after he won his first surfing event as a wildcard - at the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach in 2001.
"Back when I retired from the tour in 2018 I didn't know if I'd ever compete again. The first year I never even considered it. Was a flat no. Over the last year I almost jumped back in for a wildcard but then the comps didn't eventuate," Fanning posted to Instagram on Friday.
"I look forward to the challenge of competing against the Worlds best. Let's see what comes of it. I have no expectations. Just want to perform well for my family."
Fanning is a three-time surfing world champion, clinching titles in 2007, 2009 and 2013 along with 22 event wins. He was also a six-time Australian Male Surfer of the Year.
The surfing icon was famously attacked by a shark at a South African competition in 2015 - an event that left him suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Originally published as Surfing world erupts over Fanning bombshell