Hawaii’s Bethany Hamilton took down Australia’s World Surf League leader Tyler Wright and six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore today at the Fiji Women’s Pro, securing her place in the quarterfinals.
Hamilton, who lost her left arm in a shark attack in 2003, was awarded the wildcard into the contest at Cloudbreak in Tavarua, Fiji.
She beat Wright, who is first on the championship tour leaderboard, in the second round with a near-perfect 9.0 ride.
“I have so much respect for Tyler,” Hamilton said. “I love her surfing and love her as a human, and I am rooting for her this year. I think she should win a world title, so I have mixed feelings right now. I am so happy because I have not had a good heat in a while, so this win feels good.”
Hamilton then went on to defeat six-time WSL champion Gilmore in the third round, securing her place in the quarterfinals.
Hamilton faces Australia’s Nikki Van Dijk in the upcoming quarterfinals.
Wright established herself as a world title contender after winning three of the first four events, the World Surf League reported. Her finish in Fiji is her worst result this season.
“Heats like that are enjoyable because they are so close, and it was a great battle with Bethany,” said Wright. “I am stoked because she is the greatest human. I am stoked with the way I surfed and the way I ran my heat.”
When Hamilton was 13, a 14-foot tiger shark ripped off her left arm while she was surfing with friends in Hawaii. The film “Soul Surfer” was the inspirational tale of Hamilton’s recovery.