What You Didn’t Know About Mick Fanning & Michael Peterson Explained By Rabbit Bartholomew In The New Mag
Cooly connections and a special edition of SW!Read more
During my time as the national coaching director it was always Joel, Mick and Deano – the three amigos. Funnily, I’ve never coached Mick Fanning – each of them had a different coach and they used to attend training after school. The training was ahead of its time, it was full on. We’re talking about markers on the beach, stations, surf specific training. 8 minute heat drills, all kinds of innovative stuff, a really groundbreaking approach to coaching, and often in terrible waves at Palm Beach. It was tough work, and really put the riders through their paces.
We started a sports excellence program at Palm Beach Currumbin High school, which was our roundabout way of getting these kids to go to school. You saw little flashes in those early days of the white lightning. You could see it in all three of them. Mick’s fulfilled any dream any kid could ever have.
After the original three Cooly kids – Peter Townend, Michael Peterson and myself – there was quite a big gap. There were individually amazing surfers coming through the ranks on the Gold Coast – a strong foundation of world class surfers. But then along came Mick, Joel and Deano (and I’d include Rasta in that group too, even though he went in a different direction), but it was an incredible crop.
I started to see parents, coaches and kids start to think it was a production line of champions, and the next crew coming through were going to be just as good – but that’s a once in a generation happening. There were 20 years between us and them and it hasn’t been repeated since, even though there are always good surfers coming through. Through fierce rivalries and friendships these groups tend to push each other so hard that by the time they put their head up and have a look around they’ve gone past everyone. It’s a lot harder to do that as an individual. It’s just a rare combination.
Mick became the benchmark of training. How he prepared himself for tournaments and Hawaii was groundbreaking. I think Kelly was a big inspiration to him, in that he knew he had to aim really high to take him on. They had a fierce rivalry. The other striking thing about his legacy is how he matured to walk in the shoes of a World Champion. He really grew and assumed that role, and he became a great World Champion. He has become a genuine modern day hero and role model.
Mick has continued to shine in the face of adversity. It was an incredibly sad time when Sean passed away. Mick really had to dig deep into what he was about. He loved his brother, and I think he carries a lot of Sean’s spirit with him.
Mick was the first person I saw when I heard the news that MP had passed away. It was six foot Snapper, as good as the place gets. We sat there on the boardwalk and by the end of that conversation he said to me, “I’m going to go to Bells and win for Michael.” The way he said it, I just knew, “Yeah you are.” And he did – spectacularly.
He’s made the town of Coolangatta really proud of his achievements. He’s made his Mum proud. – Rabbit Bartholomew, 1978 World Champion