Tyler Wright (AUS), 24, two-time World Champion, has withdrawn from the opening half of the 2019 Championship Tour season, citing her delayed recovery from Influenza A and Post-Viral Syndrome as the cause.
Wright contracted the illness during a training trip to Africa in July 2018, forcing her to pull out of the then-upcoming Corona Open J-Bay event before withdrawing from the remainder of last season. In addition to the initial illness of Influenza A, the resulting Post-Viral Syndrome has delayed Wright from yet making a full recovery.
The World Surf League: Sorry to learn that you're still not 100% and you're pulling out of the first half of 2019. Can you break that down for us?
Tyler Wright: Yeah, I've been really unwell since Africa last year. The initial bout with influenza A was terrible and returning home, some symptoms improved and others got considerably worse. My doctors diagnosed Post-Viral Syndrome which has really sent me on a rollercoaster. Essentially, you're symptomatic almost always with light and sound sensitivity, headaches and brain fog. Stressful situations and little tasks become extremely difficult without your body working normally too.
The goal is recovery to 100% and I feel like there has been progress, however slow. Recovery I feel will be in stages:
- Stage 1 is to live a normal day/week without being symptomatic.
- Stage 2 is to introduce increased physical tasks without being symptomatic
- Stage 3 is to increase physical tasks with travel
- Stage 4 is to return to being my best
As clear as those stages may seem though, it comes with trial and error. Consulting with my doctors, it's important to match my expectations to my reality and that is why I am withdrawing from the opening half of the season. I feel like some days I'm at Stage 1, and then some days I'm on Stage 2.
What is your day-to-day like?
My life is very slow right now.
I spend my days taking all my health stuff, eating well, reading Harry Potter and ordering all sorts of books of interest. I'm currently trying to grow an avocado tree and I think I've almost successfully grown a watermelon and tomato. Ha! I've been listening to interesting podcasts.
Most of the time, the athlete side of me kind of feels hopeless because I'm so used to "doing" to get better: training, rehab and pushing through, but doing that with this illness just ends up with you on the floor in a puddle of tears. It's completely unnerving because with my day/recovery, the smaller I go the better, which is the opposite of fighting through like I've usually done. It wigs me out, so a lot of time goes to unlearning what I've done throughout my career so far. I do meditation twice a day and that helps, routine helps a lot too but it's nothing wild. I feel like I am making progress though so I'm happy about that. It feels good to be able to do some normal, everyday things again. I'm feeling good about my new gardening skills too, it's awesome to see something grow from nothing and know that I did that.
Have you been surfing again?
I've surfed a couple times on a foamy or fun boards. Itt feels amazing for about 20 minutes, but I get overexcited and it costs me quite a bit. Being in the ocean though has always made me feel better even on the worst of days...even if it was just for a minute.
What is the first event you can come back to?
Jeffreys Bay is the earliest I'll return to competition, which would be kind of poetic I guess considering that's when I withdrew last year. That said, we'll see how the recovery continues to go and make another assessment the closer we get.
It's an important year regarding surfing, the Olympics and qualifying for Japan. Have you thought about that at all?
Getting a week without symptoms would feel amazing right now, so the Olympics has seemed like another world away. It is a big year though - women's surfing has never been in a more healthy place with strong-minded individuals leading the way. If I'm watching from home I will be very proud.
Did you watch at all last season after withdrawing? Will you watch this season?
Watching last year, I thought was very interesting.
Steph bringing on a coach was brilliant and exciting to see her competitive drive lift even after her six previous titles. I thought the rookies did great and Carissa probably had the heat of the year.
This year I'm looking forward to see how Lakey backs up a huge year and Steph continuing with a coach. Also micro (unquestionably the best coach in surfing) has taken on the new rookie, Brisa (Hennesy), and tour veteran Sal (Fitzgibbons). Watching from the sidelines now, this is exciting stuff!