BARRA DA TIJUCA, Rio de Janeiro/Brazil (Tuesday, May 8, 2012) – Kelly Slater (USA), 40, reigning 11-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1, has withdrawn from the Billabong Rio Pro following a heel injury sustained in Java.
"I injured the inside of my left heel in Java and then re-opened it again the following week at Cloudbreak," Slater said. "It 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. I've been in the water since getting it stitched and while I can go straight, I can't do turns at all right now so I'll have to pull out of Rio. It's unfortunate, but I'm just going to focus on healing up as soon as possible right now. Good luck to all the competitors in Brazil and I'll be watching online."
Slater has been replaced by Willian Cardoso (BRA), 26.
Event No. 3 of 10 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour, the Billabong Rio Pro will recommence this year's race for the ASP World Title, following wins by Taj Burrow (AUS), 33, on the Gold Coast and Mick Fanning (AUS), 30, at Bells Beach. With Slater's withdrawal, the current frontrunner spot on the ASP WCT ratings is up for grabs in Rio de Janeiro.
Dusty Payne (HAW), 23, has also withdrawn from the Billabong Rio Pro, citing an ankle injury that has kept him out of the water all season. Payne will be replaced by fellow Hawaiian Frederick Patacchia (HAW), 30.
Event wildcards for the Billabong Rio Pro are Tomas Hermes (BRA) and Peterson Crisanto (BRA).
When men's competition commences, up first will be Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, Bede Durbidge (AUS), 29, and Jadson Andre (BRA) 22, in Heat 1 of Round 1.
The Billabong Rio Pro will run from May 9 – 20, 2012 and will be webcast LIVE via www.billabongpro.com
Running in conjunction with the men's event is the fifth stop on the 2012 ASP Women's World Championship Tour, the Billabong Women's Rio Pro. This year has bore witness to return of four-time ASP Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 24, to the top of the ratings after posting two big wins.
Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 28, and Silvana Lima (BRA), 27, have both withdrawn from the event due to illness and injury. They have been replaced by Melanie Bartels (HAW), 30, and Sarah Mason (NZL), 17, respectively.
Event wildcard for the Billabong Women's Rio Pro is Juliana Quint (BRA).
When women's competition commences, up first will be Courtney Conlogue (USA), 19, Lakey Peterson (USA), 18, and Sage Erickson (USA), 21.
The Billabong Women's Rio Pro will run from May 9 – 13, 2012 and will be webcast LIVE via www.billabongpro.com
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
BILLABONG RIO PRO ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Josh Kerr (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS), Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kai Otton (AUS), Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 5: Taj Burrow (AUS), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Tomas Hermes (BRA)
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 8: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 9: Mick Fanning (AUS), Damien Hobgood (USA), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Heitor Alves (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Adam Melling (AUS)
BILLABONG WOMEN'S RIO PRO ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Lakey Peterson (USA), Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS), Paige Hareb (NZL), Justine Dupont (FRA)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Sarah Mason (NZL), Juliana Quint (BRA)
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Rebecca Woods (AUS), Melanie Bartels (HAW)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW), Coco Ho (HAW), Jacqueline Silva (BRA)
Heat 6: Laura Enever (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Pauline Ado (FRA)