From rollerblading his way to the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast to his specially-designed wetsuits to having "A Team" tattooed across his toes, Australia's Matty Wilkinson is one of the true characters in the ASP Top 32. He turned up early in Hawaii this year, and staying at the Rip Curl Team house right on the beachfront at Off The Wall, he's been in the water nearly every chance he's had.
But since arriving, he's been feeling unwell with fevers and muscle aches throughout his body. So much so that it has affected his training program and ultimately his performance at the Reef Hawaiian Pro, where he finished third behind John Florence and Kekoa Bacalso in the Round of 64.
Wilkinson turned to the ASP doctors for help and he has since been diagnosed with a serious staph infection.
"I've got a Golden Staph [Staphylococcus aureus] infection that has developed from a staph infection I had during the Billabong Pro in Tahiti," explained Wilkinson while being tended to by the ASP medical team.
"I had a bunch of small cuts all over me after hitting the reef a few times in Tahiti, they all healed up but I guess I didn't get rid of the infection from my bloodstream and it's now come back as a Golden Staph infection," he continued. "It just hangs in your blood and then when it wants to get out it just seems to turn up at any weak spot in your skin. The thing on my elbow was an old scar and it just turned into a massive boil. It was so ugly I couldn't even look at it. They've just lanced it and got so much junk out it. I was feeling sick enough, but I now feel sicker just watching what they've done to me."
The ASP doctors on duty at the Vans World Cup of Surfing affirm that Golden Staph is fairly common in Hawaii and that it is also fairly common for staph to develop into Golden Staph. They have been treating Wilkinson with antibiotics for over a week, but haven't given any real timeline for a full recovery.
"I don't know if I'll be able to compete at Sunset," he said. "Especially the way I feel at the moment. I'm glad there's a day or two of lay days, but I'm not feeling very confident right now. The funny thing is that I've been training really hard and eating healthy foods and now this has happened."
Wilkinson's best results this year have been two equal fifth-place finishes. Coming into Hawaii he was sitting 27 on the ASP Men's World Ranking with the possibility of not making the year-end cutoff for the 2012 ASP Top 32. The Billabong Pipeline Masters gets underway early next month, and for someone floating on the bubble, dealing with illness and injury is the last thing they want to be doing.