Teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton of Hawaii, one of the top amateur sufers in the U.S., returned to competition just 10 weeks after losing her left arm in a shark attack. The 13-year-old placed fifth out of 24 in her age group in the Open Women's Division of a National Scholastic Surfing Association meet at Banyans in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. "It was definitely a good start," Hamilton said. It was her first meet since the weekend before she was attacked October 31 but a shark off the Hawaiian island of Kauai, although she returned to the water Thanksgiving Day. Hamilton started with a modest 2 foot wave but caught a 6 footer during her quarterfinal heat. She kicked her left leg to help propel her 6-foot-2-inch surfboard into waves and occasionally struggled when pushing off the board with one hand. "Once I get up on the board, I'm OK," Hamilton said. "Sometimes it's hard to get there." She declined offers from tournament officials for more time between runs and to be placed in a more favorable heat. "She rejected any special treatment," said Bobbie Lee, SSA Hawaii Conference director.

Just one more reason to get back on the horse. Don't give in to all the reason why it can't be done. Only looking forward to the possibility. Get the Hamilton Spirit the next time some obstacle gets in your way of doing something you really love and want. Think of this little 13-year-old and what she did in not a year, but just 10 weeks. Makes some of the hurdles out in front of success look pretty small.
Source: USA Today, 1/24/04

Related Issue: How to Avoid a Shark Attack, Notable Women

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