With the European leg of the tour now underway, there’s one tour competitor who will be sorely missed this year. That is Tiago Pires, or as his homecrowd like to refer to him, the ‘Portuguese Tiger’.
Injuring his knee during a heavy free surf session at home back in April, Tiago has fought hard to regain full fitness in time for the European stops on tour but with a recent set-back before Trestles he realised it just wasn’t happening. The ASP recently caught up with Tiago to find out more on his progress.
“I got injured surfing at home. Having one of those dream sessions with only two friends out. Waves were about four-to-five foot, just perfect righthander beach break barrels. I had surfed for about two hours already and was full of confidence when I decided to go on a late one trying to drop straight into the barrel. When I got to the bottom of the wave, my inside rail didn’t catch and the board turned straight facing the beach. The lip landed right on my front knee and my leg got pulled backwards. After feeling this gnarly pain, I knew that it would be bad and going to beach, barely walking, made it clear (my knee-cap was loose which freaked me out!). So I went home and iced my leg for about 48 hours non-stop, hoping that it wasn’t that bad.
“My MRI showed that I had ruptured my internal lateral ligament. The doctor gave me 6 to 10 weeks to get back to the water and told me we didn’t have to operate, which was a relief. I started my rehab process doing physical therapy twice a day and slowly started mixing it up with a few light gym sessions.
“At the end of July, I went and got a second MRI to check the progress and it was disappointing to see that, although the ligament had healed a fair bit, there was now a lot of fluid around it, which meant that I was looking at more work ahead of me.
“I kept on my rehab routine, surfed with different knee-braces, and by the time the Azores comp came, I felt I could try an approach to competition, not taking into consideration the results, but on how well my knee reacted. The waves were tiny and my difficulties really appear when I’m doing tight turns in medium-size conditions.
“About a week ago, when I was deciding on going to Trestles or not, I landed a turn in a funky way and my front foot slipped forward and I felt pain again. This only means that I’m still recovering from my injury and I need to focus on being 100% safe from a relapse if I want to get back to competition this year.
“I’m training and keeping up with my physical therapy sessions trying to get back on tour as soon as possible, but I have to remind myself that my priority is my full recovery if I want to keep surfing at a competition level for years to come.
“At the moment, I’m watching the contest at home and feeling so amped! I never thought I would stay away for so long, especially because this is the first time ever I’m withdrawing WCT events.