- Mick Fanning has revealed he still has flashbacks to shark attack five years ago
- Fanning was attacked by a great white shark at South Africa surf championships
- The three-time world champion is in a new documentary called Save This Shark
- He will come face to face with a shark for the first time since the attack
Retired Australian surfing hero Mick Fanning has revealed he still has flashbacks to the moment a shark attacked him on live television.
Fanning was competing at the World Surf League Championship Tour in the J-Bay Open in South Africa in July 2015, when a great white launched at him.
Despite returning to the water within a week, the three-time world champion said he still had mental scars from the encounter.
'As a surfer you have (sharks) in the back of your mind but you never think it's going to happen to you,' Fanning told 7NEWS.
'I consider myself extremely lucky. I still have flashbacks of coming up (for air) and I hear the splashes.'
Fanning opened up about his flashbacks as part of a documentary called Save This Shark, which once again see him come face-to-face with a shark.
The retired champion said he had joined the documentary to get a better insight into why shark attacks have become more common in Australia.
'I wanted to understand why sharks are coming to home (Tweed Heads), growing up I never even thought about them then all of a sudden in the last five to six years they’ve been around,' he said.
After his lucky escape in 2015, Fanning said he thought it was the end of his life.
'I thought I was going to die. I guess everyone watching on from the beach that day, and on the live broadcast all over the world, thought the exact same thing,' Fanning told Stellar in 2019.
Jet skis immediately came to rescue Fanning, who punched the animal in the nose as he made his escape.
While he was on a water-safety boat he said he was laughing and chatting as the experience had been surreal.
He knew how lucky he was to be alive when he arrived back to shore and hugged his friends which brought a 'different feeling.'
Since retiring Fanning has normally shied away from talking about the encounter and embraced being 'unchained' from the life of a professional surfing.
'I've loved the freedom of travelling, of being unchained to an event schedule. I've had more time to stop and enjoy the places and cultures I visit now,' he said.
A week after the attack, Fanning was back in the ocean and said he felt better as soon as he entered the water.
He revealed he doesn't normally talk about the incident not because he is afraid but he has moved on.
'I've always considered myself a visitor to the ocean. We are aware of the dangers when we paddle out and make the choice to enter their realm.'