PUEBLO, Colo. – World leader Eduardo Aparecido is healthy, confident and ready to return to competition this weekend at the Tacoma Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.
Aparecido told PBR.com on Wednesday that his injured riding arm (strained right brachialis and elbow) is 100 percent healthy after he had to miss the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, in Billings, Montana, two weeks ago because of PBR rule 184.108.40.206:
“In the event that a rider withdraws himself from competition in any round due to an injury that does not prevent him from being able to compete on the basis of being medically unfit as described in rule 220.127.116.11, that rider will be deemed ineligible for competition for the next BFTS event on the schedule.”
Aparecido had elected to not compete in the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on April 1 after he was bucked off by Lifting Lives (3.53 seconds) in Round 2 of the First PREMIER Bank PREMIER Bankcard Invitational.
The 26-year-old immediately grasped at his right arm/elbow, which he originally hurt in Glendale, Arizona, attempting to ride Bad Beagle in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
“I am feeling really good,” Aparecido said with the help of Miriaham Garcia translating. “I did a lot of physical therapy at the gym here where I go train. I am good, I feel 100 percent. After being out a few weeks, I am relaxed and motivated.”
Aparecido spent the last two and a half weeks rehabbing at Fit-N-Wise Rehabilitation and Performance Center in Decatur, Texas.
He heads into this weekend’s Tacoma Invitational with a 1,040-point lead on No. 2 Kaique Pacheco.
The Gouvelandia, Brazil, bull rider has drawn Billy Bat Skat (5-3, BFTS) for Round 1 on Saturday night. He will then take on Red Bandana (11-4, BFTS) in a favorable matchup during the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Aparecido leads the PBR with a 53.49 percent riding percentage and three event wins.
He is also tied with Pacheco for the league-lead in qualified rides (23) and combined championship round and 15/15 Bucking Battle rides (6).
Aparecido has been the No. 1 rider in the world standings since winning Iron Cowboy in mid-February.
“I'm not feeling pressure,” Aparecido said. “I ask God every day that his will is done in my life. Yes, this year I came back more focused than the other years. With this goal of giving my best, and thanks to Jesus Christ, I have been able to win three events so far, including Iron Cowboy – a big event of many points. And in the name of Jesus and God I'm going to be No. 1 until 2018.”
Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney is lurking at No. 3 in the world standings after winning the Billings event to cut Aparecido’s lead on him to 1,123.76 points.
Mauney is the only rider in the current points system to surpass a 1,000-point deficit and win the world title.
Aparecido understands he can’t let the performance of Mauney, or other riders such as Pacheco, affect his mental approach to the sport.
“I have to do my job well to get good results,” Aparecido said. “I know he is able to win more world titles, but only that it does not go through my head to be afraid of him because if I continue doing my work well, I will certainly have good results.”
Unlike some of his fellow Brazilian bull riders, Aparecido has never won a PBR Brazil or national championship back home.
Aparecido was leading the PBR Brazil tour for the majority of the 2011 season before finishing second to Edevaldo Ferreira because of a poor showing at the PBR Brazil Finals.
He then finished in second place to Ferreira the following season as well.
“I didn’t win any national titles in Brazil,” Aparecido said. “I think that has helped me, for sure, get more experience.”
Those shortcomings are a reminder that no matter how big of a lead he has, he will have to make sure to continue to push forward as the world No. 1 bull rider.
Until he clinches the 2017 world title, no lead is unsurmountable for his competition.
Still, even his latest injury hasn’t hindered what Aparecido believes to be his best season to date.
“This year everything is working out right,” Aparecido said. “Everything is going well for me. The results have been better this year, so I think I have a really good chance of being World Champion. I really want that to happen, but I just ask God that his will is done. If it’s meant to be it will be.
“I am prepared, confident and I hope he can make that dream come true. If it doesn’t, I have the next years, but I am planning on it being this year.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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