LAS VEGAS – Guilherme Marchi’s arms bulged as he held onto the rope hanging from the ceiling of an indoor swimming pool in Campinas, Brazil.
Renowned Brazilian physiotherapist Nivaldo Baldo held onto the lower portion of the rope and used his hips to swing the 2008 World Champion back and forth.
For 30 minutes, Marchi would have to hang onto the rope as the burning sensation continued to build in his arms and legs.
Eventually, Marchi, who is potentially the PBR’s version of Rocky Balboa, yells at Baldo to hit him in the chest.
“Then in the last 10-15 minutes, something like that, they start making me exercise with my legs to get strength,” Marchi explained Monday night at rider check-in for the Built Ford Tough World Finals. “I then would start to feel like I would pass out, and I told him to hit me to give me energy or something.”
It was just one snippet of Marchi’s intense 15-day rehabilitation process with Baldo after Marchi returned home to Brazil.
Marchi spent 15 days strengthening and rehabbing his torn left MCL/PCL that he sustained in Thackerville, Oklahoma, on Sept. 4, as well as his torn right biceps (riding arm) from the Calgary Stampede, through various exercises in and out of a swimming pool.
“I am better and am so glad for Nivaldo for everything he did for me,” Marchi said. “He made my knee a little bit stronger. I know I need to do surgery, but I did physical therapy (to) put me back in the Finals.”
Baldo has worked in the past with three-time World Champion Adriano Moraes, who introduced Marchi to Baldo in 2005 when Marchi was rehabbing a hand injury. Baldo has also worked with Valdiron de Oliveira, Marco Eguchi and Robson Palermo.
Baldo has also worked as a physiotherapist of the Brazilian delegation at the XII Pan-American Games in Winnipeg in 1999, the World University Games in Kobe, Japan, in 1985, the Pan American Games in Edmonton in 1983 and the Brazilian U-23 national soccer team in Toulon, France, in 1983.
He also has consulted various soccer teams for sports physiotherapy in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
“We have been good friends since 2005,” Marchi said. “He likes to see you be successful at what you do. He doesn’t sleep. He is all the time reading, reading and reading. He is always learning.”
Marchi, who also credited Baldo for helping him mentally prepare for the World Finals, heads to the World Finals in Las Vegas ranked 10th in the world standings.
He is looking to post his 11th consecutive Top-10 finish — only once in his career has he finished outside of the Top 10.
However, the injuries have clearly taken their toll on Marchi since the Calgary Stampede when he first tore the biceps.
He nodded his head one time Nashville before then shredding his knee in his second ride attempt in Thackerville.
“Of course, I am not 100 percent,” Marchi said. “My knee is completely torn and I need to do surgery. I went to see the doctor (Dr. Tandy Freeman) this week and did some tests with my knee and my arm. He told me he scheduled my surgery for Nov. 4. I told him, ‘I don’t know the doctor.’ I need to see first. I hope to do well at the Finals, ride good, make some money and feel well.”
Marchi won the 2005 World Finals event title (6-for-8) in the first year he worked with Baldo.
He knows he is an underdog, but the 33-year-old is ready to see if his intense therapy sessions will pay off this week.
“That is one of my goals this week – be World Finals champion. I know it will be hard but you never know. We are here to ride those bulls and we are here to win every day.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2015 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.