PUEBLO, Colo. – Ednei Caminhas has already heard the laughter and been asked if he is crazy.
He is 40 years old. How can the 2002 World Champion really expect to be able to compete on the PBR’s Built Ford Tough Series in 2016?
Well, he has faith in God, the support of his loving wife, Gabriela, he feels 100 percent healthy and he has the confidence in himself to be a Top-35 bull rider.
“I am 40 years young,” Caminhas said with a laugh. “I am not nervous. Most of the people say, ‘What are you doing? You are too old.’ They say it here and they say it back in Brazil. But, you know what, if you feel better and are confident, then let’s go.”
Caminhas, who competed at the Touring Pro Division event in Enid, Oklahoma, last month, as well as in San Antonio, confirmed to PBR.com that he is looking to make a run at qualifying for the 2016 Built Ford Tough Series and 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
He plans to ride at this weekend’s BlueDEF Tour event in Cincinnati on Sunday night. Fans can catch all of the action from U.S. Bank Arena on PBR LIVE on CarbonTV.com starting at 5:30 p.m. ET.
“I know he is very excited and I am very excited too,” Gabriela Caminhas said. “I know how important this is for us to start again. I am putting everything in God’s hand.”
Gabriela Caminhas plans to travel with Ednei to events in 2016.
Caminhas last competed on the BFTS in 2010 when he finished 36th in the world standings. The Sao Paulo, Brazil, bull rider competed sparingly in the United States at Touring Pro Division events in 2012.
Prior to his ride attempt in Enid, Caminhas last rode at a United States PBR event in October of 2013 at a Touring Pro Division event.
“Well, I will stay here and I will try and go back to the tour this year,” he said. “I am going to try and make the Built Ford Tough Tour and make another World Finals. Then I think I am going to quit.”
Caminhas, who has unretired from the PBR before, has spent the last two years competing at open bull ridings in Brazil. It was at these bull ridings that he began to get an itch to return to the United States and the Built Ford Tough Series.
With each successful bull ride in Brazil came with a question inside himself that maybe he wanted to return to the United States and a make a run at the World Finals.
“That is why I am excited,” Caminhas said. “I am 40 years old and all of the young guys ride really good, but I have proved in Brazil I am a 40-year-old that looks like an 18- or 20-year-old. I went and kicked some butt over there. I can kick some butt over here.”
Ben Jones and Valdiron de Oliveira, at 36, were the two oldest riders on the BFTS last season. Oliveira finished the season 13th in the world standings, while Jones concluded the season 21st.
According to the PBR competition department, Gary Richard (2004) is believed to be the only rider over 40 years old to have competed on the BFTS level.
Richard was 42 years old when he last nodded his head in Springdale, Arkansas.
But can Caminhas truly compete on the BFTS?
Caminhas has qualified for the World Finals nine times in his career and has more than 300 qualified rides on the BFTS. Outside of his 2002 championship, Caminhas has finished in the Top 15 of the world standings twice. He finished sixth in the world in 2001 and 12th in 2003.
“Well, first of all, I believe a lot in God,” Caminhas said. “With God, you can do everything you want. I feel confident and I feel really good. My body feels OK. I feel confident to ride here and these bull ridings. I am ready to go. I am very excited. I am more excited now then probably four or five years ago.”
Qualifying for the World Finals is not the only goal.
“I feel like I can finish in the Top 5 this year,” Caminhas boldly stated.
Can he compete against J.B. Mauney, Joao Ricardo Vieira, Kaique Pacheco and Fabiano Vieira?
“Oh, absolutely,” Caminhas reiterated. “Yeah, absolutely because I have a lot of experience riding here. I feel like I am 18, 20 years old. That is what I am saying. I am more excited now to come back than in say 2006-07. That is why I decided to go back to Brazil and get more power. Make me more excited to come back here again.”
It is one thing to be excited and confident, but Caminhas will need to prove he has what it takes to compete alongside the Top 35 bull riders in the world.
There is no hiding from the fact that he hasn’t qualified for the World Finals since 2009 or that he is 40 years old.
It is why he understands the BlueDEF Tour events, including this weekend’s, are so important.
A win in Cincinnati would give Caminhas an automatic bid to the BFTS event in Anaheim, California, on Jan. 29-31.
“That is the most important reason why we decided to come over here,” Caminhas said. “I heard about the BlueDEF events and it gives you a really good chance and opportunity to come back to the tour. It is real important that I win on Sunday. I hope my draw is really good.”
Caminhas hasn’t posted a qualified ride in two PBR events this season, but he says he has made the 8-second mark at various open bull ridings in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
He will attend another open bull riding Friday night before competing at a TPD event in San Antonio on Saturday and traveling to Cincinnati on Sunday morning.
When asked if he was nervous or worried about how hard things may be this time around, Caminhas brushed off any cause for concern.
“I am going to ride because bull riding is inside my blood,” Caminhas said. “It is in my heart. When you have a big heart, you can do it.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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