Mick Fanning: a knight of the waves | Photo: Gibson/Red Bull

Mick Fanning has been named Officer of the Order of Australia, one of the most prestigious distinctions awarded to national citizens.

The Order of Australia was established in 1975 by Elizabeth II, the Queen of Australia. She wanted to recognize the Australian citizens who stand out for meritorious service or outstanding achievements.

"It's a huge honor to be recognized with that high an accolade. I'm not someone who goes and chases awards, but this is one that's really special," Fanning told the press.

Officially, Fanning was recognized for his "service to surfing as a professional competitor at the national and international level and as a supporter of a wide range of charitable foundations."

The 35-year-old surfer has been supporting several charities and non-governmental organizations including the Starlight Foundation and Make a Wish.

"I think we all should give back in a way. These kids are going through a tough time, and I'm pretty blessed, I'm lucky to have my health. I'm more than happy to take some time out and try and put some smiles on their faces."

"But, at the end of the day, they're the ones that are putting smiles on my face, I walk away just being so humbled and just grateful that I am healthy and happy and able to do the things that I want to do," concluded Mick Fanning.

The Australia Day 2017 honors list also includes names like Julia Gillard (former prime minister), Jimmy Barnes (singer-songwriter), Nick Cave (musician), Kim Brennan (rower), Mark Webber (F1 driver), and others.

The Australia Day is celebrated annually on January 26, and marks the arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, in 1788.