Bethany Hamilton, Professional Surfer. In 2003, she survived a shark attack in which she lost her left arm. She returned to surfing just one month after the attack and entered her first competition, after learning to surf one-armed, the following year.
“It’s funny, when I first heard I was going to be nominated for an ESPY the first thing I thought was: ‘Whoa, I’m going to be up for best female action sports athlete!’ It didn’t even occur to me that I was going to be placed in the disabled division … I don’t surf disabled or compete in a disabled category.”
“I think disabled is a very degrading title for athletes. I feel like I’m an incredibly abled person ... If anything, I encourage ESPYs to … change the category to Best Adaptive Athlete, so athletes that have adapted to unique situations in their life. I would have been stoked to be in the category if that was what it was called… I don’t look at it like, ‘Wow, I did a really good job with one arm.’ It’s just, ‘Wow, I did a good job on that wave.’”
The Guardian, Photo via San Diego Union-Tribune