It had to happen some time. The end of Matt Wilkinson's improbable run that is. Wilko wowed everyone during the Australian leg. His amazing back-to-back wins were the biggest shock to the system in years because nobody, especially Wilko, saw them coming.
Even after his 9th in Margaret River Wilko entered the Oi Rio Pro with an 8000-plus point lead. Even Wilko's biggest fans are still trying to wrap their heads around that. After all, this is a guy who until this year has struggled to requalify.
On Saturday in Rio Wilko was reintroduced to gravity. He suffered his first early loss of the season in a Round Two match with wildcard Deivid Silva, another of the serious Brazilian talents coming off the bench in this event.
Conditions were tough all day, and finding rippable corners in the dumpy 3-foot closeouts was no easy task. The quick runners were a test for even the best reflexes.
In conditions like this fortune favors the brave. Silva needed a solid score in the final moments of the heat. Wilkinson, who had priority, passed on a wave that he figured might net him a 4.0. But Silva built up some speed, took to the air, and stuck a seamless alley-oop, then added a nice forehand hack to finish it off. He earned an 8.3 for the effort, and handed Wilko his first big defeat of the season.
To his credit, Wilko had already put the loss in perspective before leaving the beach. He gambled and lost by letting Silva have that wave. It happens. And if the situation happens again he might make the same decision. "I didn't want to take off on a four and leave something else for him out the back," Wilko explained.
Wilko's confidence isn't shaken. This is how tough losses happen, and he's had his share. The difference this time is what he's learned about his approach. Sometimes, there's no action required. Nothing needs fixing. You just dust yourself off and get back out there. We suspect he's looking forward to Fiji.