Sydney - An Australian hailed a hero after wrestling a 3m shark that had latched on to someone he did not know said on Monday that he was "just doing the right thing and looking out for people".
Computer consultant Trevor Burns, aged 50, received a bravery medal at the weekend for saving Elyse Frankcom, aged 22, in 2010 when a great white shark bit her legs as she was leading a dolphin-spotting tour near Rockingham, Western Australia.
Burns had joined the Rockingham Wild Encounters tour and was in the water with Frankcom.
"It came in like a freight train and did a massive double bite on Elyse," Burns told the national broadcaster ABC. "All I could see was red. I'd lost sight of Elyse. I screamed to myself 'Get it off her!'
"I knew there wasn't much you can do against a shark that size, but you can't just sit there and do nothing."
He grabbed the shark's tail as Frankcom punched it in the nose. It thrashed around, then let go of her.
Back in the water
Burns said Frankcom, who needed more than 200 stitches to close the gashes on her legs, sank to the ocean floor in a cloud of blood and he dived down to get her.
"I'd started thinking what I could do when we got to the surface," the father of two said. "When we broke the surface, she immediately took a big breath, and that was a big relief."
Frankcom is back in the water, having recovered 90% movement in her legs.
Burns said he was a little embarrassed at receiving the Royal Life Saving Honour gold medallion but it might encourage others to be brave.
"You make more people aware of what they should be doing - not necessarily wrestling sharks - but just doing the right thing and looking out for people," he said.