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Interview with surfer Bethany Hamilton: Soul Surfer movie

Inspirational Woman: Bethany Hamilton

 - Interview with surfer Bethany Hamilton: Soul Surfer movie
Bethany Hamilton © Sipa
We caught up with shark attack survivor and pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton to talk about the launch of Soul Surfer - the Hollywood film of her inspirational life story.

It's crazy to be able to tell your life story on the silver screen when you're only 21 years old, but Bethany Hamilton has had the kind of lifestory that people want to hear about, and once you've seen the film - in cinemas now - we challenge anyone not to be moved by what she has achieved.

Bethany was born into a family of surfers on the island of Kauai, Hawaii but at the age of thirteen her arm was bitten off by a 14ft tiger shark while out surfing with friends while surfing Kauai's North Shore.

She said: "I felt a lot of pressure and a couple of lightning fast tugs. Then I watched in shock as the water around me turned bright red. Somehow, I stayed calm. My left arm was gone almost to the armpit, along with a huge crescent-shaped chunk of my red, white and blue surfboard."

Despite everything she says: "The North Shore is still one of my favorite surf spots!"

The shark attack left Bethany with a severed arm and she lost over 60% of her blood, but she managed to pull through three operations - and returned to the water only a matter of weeks afterwards.

Even from a young age Bethany knew that she wanted to become a pro surfer, and having one arm less than the competition wasn't going to stop her from achieving her goal. Needless to say, her drive and determination has inspired people from around the world.

Soul Surfer Film Review

The film Soul Surfer, is based on the book Bethany wrote about her experiences. The film has an all star cast with AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt and Carrie Underwood all taking lead roles.

Bethany Hamilton is played by AnnaSophia Robb - who Bethany chose for the role. She tells me: "She did a great job - we've actually become really close friends through the experience."

The Bethany in the film Soul Surfer, is sweet, determined and feisty and meeting the real life Bethany you can see that she has all of these qualities in spades.

With beach blonde hair, freckles and a healthy glow, she's a gorgeous surfer girl, statuesque and quietly charismatic. The kind of person you can feel instantly comfortable with. It's no wonder that AnnaSophia and Bethany bonded so quickly. 

The film explores Bethany's lifelong passion for surfing, her relationship with her family and her faith, which plays an important part in the way she deals with the loss of her limb.

While the film captures the freedom, exhilaration and sense of achievement, and peace that a surf filled lifestyle can bring, it does have some moments where it seems a bit nauseating and well, Disney.


But if you can handle your mature cheeses then this film will make you feel all warm inside. It does a good job telling the story of Bethany's life and depicting the idyllic lifestyle that Hawaii has to offer.

But despite dealing with a very raw issue, based on real events, it has so many Hollywood touches - the script for one, and plenty of Rip Curl product placement too, that it almost seems unbelievable in places.

But Bethany's story itself is unbelievable how she could come so close to loosing everything, yet achieve it all. She took 2nd place at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championship in 2009 and continues to compete on a worldwide stage.

I asked her how she found the motivation to keep going when things were difficult.

She said: "I don't know I kind of just trust in God and the plan he has for my life. And just knowing that good things can come out of bad things. Nowadays if I find myself in a challenging situation I look back at the challenges I've already faced and know that something good is going to come out of it." 

Her unwavering positivity and her faith go hand in hand and while it can feel a bit like watching an advert for Christianity in places, thSoul Surfer is very family friendly and sends out the right message. Something along the lines of love being the most important thing of all - which is something we can all agree on.

Reflecting on her life so far, Bethany told sofeminine: "Over time I've accepted who I am [without my arm] and I think surfing was a big part of my healing.

"I've gotten to meet some really cool people through this too - I like it - for the most part."

And as for the film Soul Surfer - we liked it too - for the most part!
Soul Surfer is out in cinemas now.



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