Just over a week ago, after bowing out in Round Two of the Cascais Women's Pro, it looked like Tyler Wright's run for a second consecutive World Title was on the wane. After a loss in Round One, she revealed that she had torn her right MCL -- the ligament on the inside of her knee -- just before the contest started. After her loss in Round Two, it was clear that the pain wasn't subsiding, despite Wright's assertion that she didn't "feel" injured. And at that point, it seemed that the other women in the World Title race had just been gifted with a newly opened door.
While Wright still has a long road to recovery ahead, her performance today is miraculous in light of her current prognosis. Visibly limping up the beach, she has been working closely with WSL Medical Director Chris Prosser to be able to surf, much less win a heat.
"Tyler has a grade two-plus tear, of the medial collateral ligament, the MCL," Prosser said at the time, in Cascais. "It attaches to the tibia. So there's 60 percent that's not connected there anymore. It's tender to touch, and tender and painful to swim -- but if she avoids most movements that stretch that, that position that unfortunately is always happening for a naturalfooter [where the back leg is loaded up with weight]."
But that was then. Saturday morning at the Roxy Pro France, Wright put up a fight in the clean, chest-high surf to win her Round One heat and sail to Round Three. It wasn't a total rout -- Tatiana Weston-Webb traded the lead at least once -- but Wright wasn't holding back, either. Instead of nursing her knee, as she was doing in Cascais, she was driving down the line with her characteristic will to win. Which is to say that the Title race may deliver more surprises yet.