Tyler Wright ''happy, healthy and surfing every day'' after long illness

The two-time surfing world champion's brother Owen says she has turned a corner after a battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By Ashlee Tulloch

Two-time world surfing champion Tyler Wright is finally on the road to recovery after a long health struggle.

The Australian came down with influenza A in South Africa, forcing her to miss the J-Bay Open in July 2018.

She then suffered Post-Viral Syndrome - a form of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - which ruled her out of the last three events of last year's WSL Championship Tour and the whole of this season so far.

But her brother, fellow professional surfer Owen Wright, says she is close to making a return to action.

Speaking on the Olympic Channel Podcast, he said, "She's great. I'm happy to report she's great and she's happy, healthy and surfing every day. I can't wait to see her back.

"She's so fired up and she's just finally turned that corner with that influenza and the fatigue that she had afterwards." - Owen Wright on sister Tyler

Some 11 months after falling ill, the 24-year-old finally began to make positive steps in her recovery.

Owen added, "It just was relentless for her. She just couldn't turn that corner and then about three months ago she turned it and I was like, 'Yeah, nice.' Look out when she comes back."

The road back

Tyler was diagnosed with Post-Viral Syndrome in November last year after failing to make a speedy recovery from the influenza she contracted in South Africa.

The causes of the condition - which causes a range of symptoms including fatigue, muscle pain and memory issues - are not well understood and there is no known cure.

In March, she told WSL the illness "really sent me on a roller coaster".

"Essentially, you're symptomatic almost always with light and sound sensitivity, headaches and brain fog. Stressful situations and little tasks become extremely difficult without your body working normally too.''

Having been through health issues himself after a life-threatening traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2015, 29-year-old Owen has been able to support his sister through her journey.

He said, "She was definitely in one of those situations she didn't want to be in, but she was in it. I was trying to help her out as much as possible and problem-solving is probably one thing that I've had to get good at because of problems and I was trying to help as much as I could.

"She found her answers and got to it and I was really happy to see that. We had a lot of moments to share and a lot of things that she'd be like, 'I've got this' and I'd be like, 'Yeah I've got that too.'

"So many really cool moments that I could help her and be like, 'It's OK. It's OK to be feeling like this and it's OK to feel like that. You'll surf again, you'll compete again, and, yeah, she's doing it.'' - Owen Wright speaking to the Olympic Channel Podcast.

Tyler also helped her brother with his road back, citing him as her inspiration for her first world title in 2016.

Tyler Wright celebrates her first surfing world title in October 2016 with brother Owen (blue top) in the background

When Tyler clinched the crown in France, and with Owen still on the sidelines recovering from his serious concussion, she wore her brother's jersey for her next heat.

He said, "Yeah, that was a really special moment. I'm sitting there crying and whatnot because it was really cool to see that. It was just a really nice gesture and at that time we didn't know if I was going to be surfing. Yeah, it lifted my spirits, that for sure.''

Owen is on the brink of qualifying for Tokyo 2020 when surfing makes its Olympic debut, however Tyler's chances of representing Australia at the Games are over, with fellow Australians Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons provisionally qualifying through the 2019 WSL Championship Tour.


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