By: Justin Felisko
December 13, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi can be normally found laughing and being jovial inside the Built Ford Tough Series locker room.
The warm-hearted Brazilian bull rider has been a fan favorite for the last 13 years and will begin his 14th season in 2017 with a strong following once again.
However, even Marchi admits being told he is too old to win a second world title or that maybe he should consider retiring makes him angry sometimes.
Even more so, the doubters have motivated the 34-year-old to work 10 times harder.
“Of course. A lot,” Marchi said in November. “That is one of those things. I am still here. When you have a goal, you can do whatever you want to do, and those people push me hard. I don’t have any plans to retire. I keep saying, ‘Maybe I retire next year,’ but I still enjoy and love what I do. I feel great. I feel no pain. I lost a little bit of weight. I have to fight to ride bulls, and I felt so focused at this Finals.”
Marchi has plenty of reasons, and proof, that he still has what it takes to potentially win a second world title. He knows that a second title will be harder to win than his first, but he is coming off a stellar finish to 2016.
The Leme, Brazil, bull rider rode his last five bulls at the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals and finished second overall in Las Vegas.
Marchi rode all but one of his bulls in the last three events of the season (12-for-13), and his 5-for-6 performance at the World Finals propelled him to a sixth-place finish in the final 2016 world standings.
“You never know what can happen today and you never know what can happen tomorrow, but you have to believe in yourself and try your best,” Marchi said.
In fact, Marchi’s Top-10 finish was his 11th in 13 seasons. He also posted five straight Top-10 event finishes to end 2016, and he finished with the second-most qualified rides (22) in the PBR’s final three months of competition.
“It was a lot,” Marchi said. “I was almost in the 30s (of the world standings) after the break. It was a big jump. A big step. Next year, I need to keep focused like I did after the break. Keep working hard and prepare myself to come back next year and finish strong.”
Marchi’s 62.85-percent riding percentage in those final three months puts him in prime position to become the first rider in PBR history to record 600 rides on the BFTS.
He heads into the season-opener – the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden – on Jan. 6 with 581 career rides.
“I am getting close,” Marchi said. “I will ride 20 bulls before the break next year. 600 rides is not easy to make that record, but next year that will be easy for me if I keep going like I have been. That is not my goal. My goal is to finish in the Top 5 next year or win the title.”
Marchi agreed with the belief that his finish to 2016 was the best he has ridden since 2014. In 2014, Marchi looked poised to win his second world title before a torn PCL in his right knee cost him the No. 1 ranking in the world during the final three months of the season.
2015 then featured a torn bicep at the Calgary Stampede, a torn left PCL/MCL in Thackerville, Oklahoma, and a torn right MCL at the World Finals.
Marchi refused to undergo surgery to repair any of his injuries and came back in 2016 following a rigorous workout and rehab program.
Still, he wasn’t anywhere close to 100 percent healthy when the season began.
“It is true,” Marchi said about feeling his healthiest since 2014. “Because when you ride with pain, you are not 100 percent. You fight with the pain. You fight mentally. When you start to get ready to ride bulls, you think, ‘What is going to happen? Will it hurt? Will I be sore?’
His injury history, especially in Thackerville, is what made his victory there this past August so special. It was also a reminder that he had finally returned to full form one year later.
“After Thackerville, I knew I was almost 100 percent,” Marchi added. “I have been riding great. I have been focused. I have been strong mentally. I have been lighter.”
Instead, 2016 was a year where Marchi’s heart and determination proved all of his doubters wrong.
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride said during the World Finals on CBS Sports Network, “This is a guy that really rides off of, and feeds off, raw emotion.”
Marchi left Ty Murray laughing in amazement with his performance at the World Finals.
“I will tell you what, this guy here is an inspiration,” Murray said on CBS Sports Network. “There has never been a more durable bull rider with a longer and better career than Guilherme. … Justin McBride, this old guy still has it.”
Yes, Marchi will turn 35 years old halfway through the 2017 season, but this year he will have a lot less doubters and an even greater amount of fans cheering him on following an inspiring 2016 run.
He also begins the year a helluva lot healthier than he did in 2016.
Therefore, Marchi still believes he can join Adriano Moraes, who was 36 when he won his last world title, as the second-oldest World Champion in PBR history.
“Adriano won his third title when he was 36 years old. He beat everybody, and he did good,” Marchi said. “I have a friend who is 42 years old and still rides good in Brazil.
“If you are in great shape, if you take care of your body, if you do what you need to do to stay mentally and physically strong, nothing is going to stop you.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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