Australia's Tyler Wright in happier times after winning her second world title in 2017.
Australia's Tyler Wright in happier times after winning her second world title in 2017.

‘Brain fog’ forces world surf champ off tour

TWO-TIME world surfing champion Tyler Wright will almost certainly be absent from the Tokyo Olympics after revealing a long recovery from an illness which has at times left her in "a puddle of tears'' will see her sit out the first five events of the 2019 world tour.

The 2019 tour, which commences at Snapper Rocks next week, plays a key part in the selection of athletes bidding to be part of history when surfing makes its Olympic debut in 2020.

 

The absence of 2016 and 2017 world champion Wright, whose symptoms from influenza A and Post-Viral Syndrome include headaches and brain fog, from the world tour until at least mid to late this year has effectively ended her bid for an Olympic spot before it even started.

"Getting a week without symptoms would feel amazing right now, so the Olympics has seemed like another world away,'' said Wright, who contracted her illness during a trip to Africa before the J-Bay Open in the second half of 2018.

"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.''

Wright has been unwell since July last year with an initial bout of influenza A followed by Post-Viral Syndrome "which has really sent me on a rollercoaster''.

Tyler Wright in full flight on the Gold Coast last year before falling sick.
Tyler Wright in full flight on the Gold Coast last year before falling sick.

"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,'' Wright said in a statement.

Wright said she has four stages of recovery ahead - living a normal day/week without being symptomatic, introducing increased physical tasks without being symptomatic, increasing physical tasks with travel and finally to return to being her best.

"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,'' said Wright, who spends her days "taking all my health stuff, eating well, reading Harry Potter and gardening".

Tyler Wright will find it tough to make the Olympics if she misses half the 2019 world tour.
Tyler Wright will find it tough to make the Olympics if she misses half the 2019 world tour.

"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.''

Wright says she has managed to return to the water briefly.

"I've surfed a couple times on a foamy or fun boards. It feels amazing for about 20 minutes, but I get overexcited and it costs me quite a bit,'' she said.

"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.''