As we surmised yesterday, John John Florence has not committed to surfing the rest of the year on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour while still recovering from ACL surgery he had in May. Florence says that his knee is not 100 percent, “but usually when we’re on the tour competing we’re not surfing 100 percent anyway,” he said. “You’re surfing at 75-80 percent and I’m surfing at that level perfectly fine right now.”
In a post-heat interview with DukeSurf’s Pablo Zanocchi, who’s part of the media throng I’m among here at Tsurigasaki Beach, Japan, John John told the Uruguay-based reporter that he isn’t sure about finishing the season, especially given that Barra de la Cruz and Tahiti (Teahupoo) are both extremely physical waves. “Yeah, I’m not that far off right now (from the WSL Championship at Lowers in September), I’m 4,000 points behind so that’s two good results in Mexico and Tahiti,” Florence said. “(But) I still have yet to decide if I’m going to go to those events or if I’m going to let my knee rest after this. My main focus is long-term health so I’ll see after this event.”
Florence says the knee procedure that he underwent was a repair and it’s in good shape for this competition. But he’s taking his health into account (which seems completely logical).
“The surgery I got was a repair and not a recovery so I’m within the timeframe that it’s pretty good to compete,” he said. “But waves like Mexico and Tahiti are very powerful. With a healthy knee it’s risky so even if my knee is at 90 percent it’s a little more risk and I want to take all of that into account before I commit to those events.”
In a follow up interview after Florence was eliminated by Kolohe Andino in his Round 3 heat, he told me the decision was imminent and he would be releasing more information soon. “I’m going to make the decision this week, talk to my doctor and judge the reward versus the risk,” he said. “Anything I can do for my long-term health I’m going to do. I’ll most likely make the decision in the next two days or so.”
Florence was thankful he didn’t tweak his knee during Olympic competition. “Everything felt really good,” he said “I was really surprised. Those were some of the bigger sections I’ve hit since I started surfing again.”
To the viewer, John John Florence did not look like his usual, powerful self. Everything about his surfing appeared more conservative, which is obviously understandable. Early in the morning, he was seen a quarter-mile up the beach from the competition site testing equipment alone, presumably trying to get himself right ahead of the day’s proceedings.
Editor’s Note: This piece was updated with more information from Mr. Florence. Read the rest of Zanocchi’s excellent interview, here.