Mick Fanning fairy-tale comes to tragic end at Bells Beach
CHEERS Mick! Thanks for the memories.
Surf icon Mick Fanning's finish to an extraordinary career has ended just a line short of a fairytale ending.
The joyride of one of Australia's most popular and successful athletes ended in the finals of the Rip Curl Pro on Thursday at the hands of Brazilian Italo Ferreira..
Fanning has won four Rip Curl Pro crowns at Bells Beach and surrounding breaks but his bid for a fifth was halted by a man many believe will be a world champion in a year or two.
It didn't matter to the crowd who erupted when one of the most respected athletes in Australia surfed his final wave at the end of a career which has seen him survive a shark attack, the death of two brothers and a potentially career-ending injury to win three world titles and the love and respect of those around him.
Fanning always said he just wanted to have fun at his last competitive event, surfing against people he liked and admired.
So a fighting Ferreira was the perfect man to face in his last ever World Tour heat.
He gave Fanning the respect due by not giving an inch, by emulating the fight Fanning has shown through his entire career.
The 15.66 to 12.83 loss ended Fanning's bid to ring the winners bell for a fifth time.
But to his friends, rivals and fans, Fanning has still gone out a winner.
"I love Mick. Everyone does," said six-time women's world champion Steph Gilmore.
"Everyone is going to miss him."
Earlier in the day Fanning booked his spot in the semi-finals by beating good mate Owen Wright.
He then advanced to the final with a semi-final win over American Patrick Gudauskas.