The 26-year-old Hawaiian, who lost her arm in a shark attack when she was just 13, continues to shock the world with her refusal to give up on her pro surfing dream. She's already inspired millions, and there's no sign of that light dimming.
On Monday Hamilton opened the latest chapter of her remarkable story, eliminating World No. 1 Tyler Wright from competition at the Fiji Women's Pro. For Wright, who's won three of four events this season, it was just the second time in her career that she's lost as early as Round Two.
Hamilton pulled the feat off with a solid display of tube riding at Cloudbreak, backed by a flurry of ferocious carves. And she was just getting started.
In Round Three, she faced six-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore and seventh-ranked Johanne Defay. With waves and wind building, the trio got busy in a hurry, trading blows in what became the biggest slugfest of the day. All three looked sharp, too, but Hamilton's combination of frontside lip bashes and heel-side hooks kept Stephanie and Johanne at bay. She led almost the entire way and advanced directly to the quarterfinals with another stunning win.
Can we pause for a little perspective here?
Bethany Hamilton is surfing with one arm. Paddling through waves, to waves, and into waves is supposed to be impossible with a disadvantage like that. And pushing to your feet while dropping into hollow reef waves?Forget about it. It's really not possible. She just refuses to believe it. And her storybook determination makes her the embodiment of the world's best motivational speech.
The only person who may have been happier than Hamilton was Tyler Wright. "She's the greatest human probably ever," Wright said afterward, and she meant it. The two have traveled together as Rip Curl teammates and have become close friends.
Hamilton, for her part, feels the same way about Wright. "I'm pulling for her to win the world title this year," she said. "She's one of my favorite humans in the world."
Michael Bradley Photography