Florence goes out the backdoor. Team Brazil throw a party. Advantage everybody else.
Anyone watching John John surf in the Olympics had the distinct feeling that he hadn’t regained full confidence in the knee that has plagued him for some time. Florence was ultimately bundled out in Tokyo by all-American teammate Kolohe Andino, however, the Hawaiian never really looked in the hunt for Gold.
Now in the wake of the Olympics, John John has announced on Instagram that he will not be partaking in the final two events on the CT calendar – Mexico and Tahiti. As the post below indicates he has claimed he needs to continue working on his knee before he's ready for the demands of competition. In better news for fans, John John hasn’t thrown in the jersey completely and stated his intention to be ready for the Pipe Masters, which will kick off the 2022 CT year. There is always a fear that he will just set sail on his 48-foot Gunboat catamaran, Falcor, and never look back.
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Currently, at number 10 on the rankings, Florence was arguably still within striking distance of the crucial, top-five cut-off. Meanwhile, the Brazilian top-three contingent (Medina, Fereira, Toledo) is probably quietly rejoicing the news about John John. He won’t be there to bother them as they hunt slinky lines in Mexico, or to rob them of points as he provides a backside tube clinic at snarling Chopes. That said, a title victory without John John in the mix is arguably not as sweet.
As judges increasingly reward lofted attacks, John is also the only surfer on tour who really looks capable of matching the Brazilian trio in any kind of aerial duel – the most likely scenario when the surf-off goes down in Trestles. However, his absence from the tour also opens things up for the competitors who are chasing the other two slots in the top five. Morgan Cibilic and Griffin Colapinto are currently in four and five respectively, with Kanoa Igarashi, Jordy Smith, and Conner Coffin all a bead of wax behind them ( Keep in mind they will drop two results each). In any case, a CT draw looks far less daunting without John John’s name penciled in somewhere.
Given John John’s current number ten ranking it’s not quite like Simone Biles (a clear favourite) withdrawing from the Olympics, but it does mean one of pro surfing’s biggest names will not be in a jersey for the remainder of the 2021 season. We can only hope John John makes a full return to fitness for the 2022 season – a world tour minus JJF feels like a birthday party without cake.