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Bethany Hamilton hoped to become a world champion surfer. Then a shark attack left her with one arm. Less than three months on, the 13-year-old tells Simon Hattenstone her life is remarkably unchanged.
Friday January 16, 2004
Roy Hofstetter, Bethany Hamilton's manager, passes the phone ________ (a) to his protege. "Bethany, can you sit ________ (b) sweetheart, this is the Guardian newspaper from London." They are ________ (c) a limo driving ________ (d) the Oprah Winfrey show, ________ (e) which Bethany will make a star appearance.
Bethany, ________ (f) the Hawaiian island of Kauai, is only 13, and ________ (g) recently was a little known but very talented surfer. Then, last October, a shark bit ________ (h) her arm and she became famous. Barely two months later she was back in competition, finishing fifth in her first surfing tournament undertaken one-handed.
She must be an extraordinarily brave girl. I ask her if she remembers anything ________ (i) the shark attack. "Not really, it was a grey blur." She never saw the shark swim up, the incident was ________ (j) in a couple of seconds and it took another couple ________ (k) seconds to realise that her arm was missing.
Did she scream? "No," she says calmly. Fortunately, she was in the water with her friend Alana and Alana's father. It took them 20 minutes to get Bethany ________ (l) to the beach. I know it is ghoulish, but I can't help asking about all the blood and the arm bobbing in the water. "Huh? Why would I see the arm in the water," she says sharply. "My arm went straight ________ (m) the shark's throat." Doctors did tell her afterwards that she is incredibly lucky to be alive - she lost 60% of her blood. It was only when she reached the beach that she fainted.
Bethany is having a prosthetic arm fitted next month, but says that having one arm would never stop her competing. Wasn't she afraid of getting back in the water? "No, of course not," she says, as if it is the ________ (N) question on earth. "I was excited."
She is a sweet girl, and seems a little astonished by everything that has happened - not simply ________ (O) the arm, but the whole media machine churning around her. She answers many questions with a single yes or no, not because she is being terse or stroppy, but because she has nothing ________ (P) to add.
It must be hard to ________ (Q) with one arm? "Yes, about twice as hard. Everything about it is harder. People have to push me up on to the board. Everything about it is harder." Even with a ________ (R) arm, she thinks it is unlikely that she will ever become a world champion as she had once ________ (S). Does that make her miserable? "No, I'm just glad to be alive and out there."
Bethany says that in some ways her life has been transformed, and in some ways it is ________ (T). What does she mean? "Everything is more challenging," she says, "but it hasn't changed my outlook, or my personality."
When I ask her what kind of ________ (U) she has, she says it is probably best if her mom answers that and she passes the phone over. "Well, she really looks to have fun, especially with all her friends," her mother, Cheri, says. "In fact, whatever they are doing, they can turn into fun. Shortly after she lost her arm, she had her friends round and they all played croquet, and she made them play with one arm. She beat them all, of course."
Was she ever worried that Bethany was going to die after the attack? "Well, the doctor told me that she could have easily died, but I didn't see her till she was in hospital and by then she was stable. Had I been there at the time I'm sure I would have been very ________ (V), but when I first heard I just thought that her arm was probably a bit mangled. I didn't realise she'd actually lost it." Both mother and daughter are remarkably cool and sanguine about the attack. Cheri tells me that she was told by Bethany's friend that not only did her daughter not ________ (W) when the shark bit off her arm, she simply said, "I think we better go in because I've been attacked by a shark."
Although Bethany has made ________ (X) progress, Cheri thinks it would be unreasonable to expect her to become a world champion surfer now. "It would be really challenging. Once she's on the wave she can be as good as anyone else but it's catching the wave that is the critical point." That is why it is so important for her to ________ (Y) on her other sports, and broaden her horizons, she says.
Cheri tells me that they have to get off the phone now because they are approaching the television studios. She returns me to Hofstetter.
"Hello-ah, my friend," he says. "Was that OK? Give me a call if you need any more information. I want this article to stress that she is touring the country doing shows telling her story, which inspires people to ________ (Z) their goals. And Bethany will be telling her whole story in her book, and we have just signed a movie deal for the story of her life, and there is also a large endorsement deal with Nike. Bethany is not totally enamoured with the glamour life, but she loves children and she wants to do anything she can to help children, and by telling her story she is doing so. So I want you to stress all the positives, and that this story will have a happy ending."
(c) Copyright The Guardian, 2004
Quick Questions (Scanning for Information)
- How old is Bethany Hamilton?
- When did a shark bite off Bethany’s arm?
- What was Bethany’s position in her first surfing competition after her accident?
- How much blood did Bethany lose?
- When is Bethany getting a new arm?
- Does Bethany still hope to become a world champion surfer?
- What is Bethany’s manager called?
- List three ways in which Bethany is sharing her story with other people.
Try the "Back on Board" Crossword Puzzle. (All the answers are words from the text above.)