Kelly Slater was forced to withdraw from the third event on the world championship tour, the Billabong Rio Pro, due to a severe heel injury suffered on his recent trips to Java and Fiji.
â€œI injured the inside of my left heel in Java and then re-opened it again the following week at Cloudbreak,â€ Slater said in an ASP interview. â€œIt became infected and I flew to Australia to get it treated and stitched in hopes of making it to Rio, if not for Round 1, at least for Round 2. Iâ€™ve been in the water since getting it stitched and while I can go straight, I canâ€™t do turns at all right now so Iâ€™ll have to pull out of Rio. Itâ€™s unfortunate, but Iâ€™m just going to focus on healing up as soon as possible right now. Good luck to all the competitors in Brazil and Iâ€™ll be watching online.â€
The open spot in the contest was given to local 26-year-old Brazilian Willian Cardoso.
Dusty Payne has also again withdrawn from the contest. He will be replaced by Hawaiian veteran Freddie Patacchia.
The Billabong Rio Pro starts on May 9 and the waiting period will continue through to May 20, if necessary. You can watch it live on www.billabongpro.com starting tomorrow.
BILLABONG RIP PRO ROUND 1 HEAT MATCH-UPS:
H1: Josh Kerr (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)
H2: Jordy Smith (ZAF), CJ Hobgood (USA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
H3: Owen Wright (AUS), Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Taylor Knox (USA)
H4: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kai Otton (AUS), Willian Cardoso (BRA)
H5: Taj Burrow (AUS), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Tomas Hermes (BRA)
H6: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
H7: Julian Wilson (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
H8: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Yadin Nicol (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS)
H9: Mick Fanning (AUS), Damien Hobgood (USA), Travis Logie (ZAF)
H10: Michel Bourez (PYF), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Tiago Pires (PRT)
H11: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Heitor Alves (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA)
H12: John John Florence (HAW), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Adam Melling (AUS)