By Ross Kelly

Despite being a three-time surfing world champion, Australian Mick Fanning isn’t a household name outside of the surfing community.

Until now.

Fanning was participating in the J-Bay Open on Sunday in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa and was attacked by a shark during the competition. Fortunately, he was unharmed and the attack was captured on video:

After a brief tussle, the camera pans back as we see safety boats making a beeline to Fanning. They are able to get to him and pull him to safety before any harm could be done. The Open was then called off and the water was cleared.

Somehow Fanning maintained composure throughout the ordeal and was able to give a live interview while standing on a rescue boat:

“I was just sitting there, I was just about to start moving, and then I felt something grab. I instantly just jumped away, and then it just kept coming at my board. I was kicking and screaming…. I just saw fins. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me. I punched it in the back.”

Yep. He saw a shark and punched it in the back.

Afterwards, Fanning became a hit on social media:

By the way, Fanning isn’t just a run-of-the-mill surfer as he’s arguably the best in the world. He’s currently the No. 2 ranked surfer by ASP and only Kelly Slater has more world championships than Fanning over the last 20 years.

Is there any scarier sight in sports than being a surfer and seeing a shark approaching you? Baseball players have to deal with 100 mph fastballs at their heads and football players have to deal with being de-cleated by a 250 lb linebacker, but neither of those come close to the fear that passes through your body when you see a shark headed your way. Maybe the only thing in sports comparable is a stock car going 200+ mph approaching an unavoidable crash but at least drivers wear helmets and protective suits. I don’t think a spandex bodysuit will offer much deference to a shark attack.

Ross Kelly is an Associated Producer for CBS Local Sports. He is from Louisiana and is a fan of all sports, but not of any teams (except LSU). He can be reached at ross.kelly@cbs.com.

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