Sadly, 11x World Champion Kelly Slater has withdrawn from the Oi Rio Pro due to his continual back issues. "I have been working through some injuries the past several seasons and, unfortunately, I need to take some time off to mend my body," Slater said. "I won't be in Rio and I don't know how long I'll need. My lower back has been in constant pain for the last three years and although I've been able to fight through it with short stints of rehab, it hasn't fixed the problem. If I don't do this now, at some point, I'll ruin my body. I'm spending the next five weeks rehabilitating with WSL Doctors in Australia and we'll see how I feel after that. I'm hopeful that I will be in top form again this season at some point. Thanks everyone for the support."
Motivated by John John Florence's incredible World Title run in 2016, 45-year-old Slater was hoping to focus mind and body on another race for the crown in 2017. Before the season started he made it clear this one would be his very last trying to capture title number twelve. After three events, Slater is already sitting well behind the pack at the No. 13 on the Jeep Leaderboard, so this setback, when put in context, means he's likely to be wearing the No. 11 jersey for the remainder of his days as a Championship Tour competitor. But of course there's no telling what's possible with Kelly. You can bet he'll want to be back at his favorite event in Fiji, where he'd love to climb back into the mix. If not, however, he may just have to settle into a new reality...of just being the greatest surfer of all time.