Mick Fanning Wins GQ Sportsman of the Year

Anna Dimond

Fanning Encounters Shark
Fanning made global headlines in July, when he encountered a shark during the Final at the J-Bay Open.

Mick Fanning (AUS), the current top-ranked surfer in the world, is on the cusp of winning a fourth World Title. But Tuesday in Sydney, Australia, he earned another honor: GQ Sportsman of the Year. GQ Australia honored more than a dozen people at their Men of the Year event -- see pictures of every winner here.

"To be classed against such great sportsmen in Australia is huge," Fanning told the Daily Telegraph.

The Australian pro, who attended the event with his wife, model Karissa Dalton, drew global attention in July after he had an encounter with a great white shark during the J-Bay Open.

"To tell you the truth, I have learned a lot about myself and how to deal with things," he said at the GQ event. "There's been good and bad, so I guess it has been one of those years. It will be a good one to remember."

Dalton also acknowledged the impact of the shark incident on their personal lives. "It's been a shake-up in some positive ways," she said.

Fanning, age 34, is currently ranked World No. 1 on the men's elite Championship Tour and is one event away from potentially earning the 2015 World Title. He is slated to compete at the last men's CT event of the year, the Billabong Pipe Masters, starting December 8. Watch him and the rest of the world's best surfers live daily at the World Surf League website and on the WSL App Dec. 8-20.