BILOXI, Miss. – Guilherme Marchi – the PBR’s all-time rides leader – knew immediately at the Calgary Stampede on July 10 that there was something seriously wrong with his right biceps (riding arm) after bucking off Trendon on the final day of Pool B competition.
The 2008 World Champion stood up and immediately grasped at his biceps as a burning sensation ran through his veins.
“I felt it on the second jump,” Marchi recalled Thursday in a phone interview with PBR.com. “The muscle stretched and something felt wrong, but I kept trying for another 3, 4 seconds. He made me sit on my butt and he bucked me off pretty hard.”
Joao Ricardo Vieira and Fabiano Vieira glanced at Marchi’s bicep and offered their own sense of concern and displeasure.
It wasn’t long before sports medicine informed Marchi that he had a torn biceps and he should head immediately back to the United States to meet with Dr. Tandy Freeman.
“I went to a couple of bull ridings in PBR Brazil and I was riding good,” Marchi said before pausing and letting out a sigh. “I felt strong and healthy, but then I went to Canada and it was no good.
“I was told I need surgery and would be out for six months.”
Marchi wasn’t ready – and still isn’t – to throw away his 2015 season. The No. 7 bull rider in the world standings is tied for the BFTS lead with two wins this season and he trails world leader Vieira by 1,732.50 points.
According to Marchi, he was told by Freeman that his injury is similar to the one that ended Markus Mariluch’s season last year and that attempting to ride with the injury would not offer further risk to his biceps.
Instead, he is going to feel an excruciating amount of pain when a bull stretches out his riding arm.
Marchi took two weeks after the Stampede to rest his arm, before slowly attempting to rehab his biceps and lift weights at home.
The Leme, Brazil, bull rider had hoped to be ready to test out his biceps in Biloxi, Mississippi, at this weekend’s Built Ford Tough Series Battle at the Beau, but he wants to continue training more before making an attempt.
“I feel so good,” Marchi said. “I feel strong and I have been exercising every day. I went to MJP – Michael Johnson Performance – and I feel so good.”
Despite his optimism, the reality is bleak for Marchi, who reached out to Adriano Moraes for advice about the injury.
Moraes tore his biceps at the 2004 World Finals and famously rode Crossfire Hurricane for 93 points in Round 4.
“Yeah, I talked to him and he said, ‘Maybe you can exercise and do physical therapy and maybe you can come back for the Finals,’” Marchi said.
Marchi also reached out to good friend Robson Palermo, who tore 50 percent of his biceps in 2010 and in 2013 had a procedure done on his biceps.
Palermo said it is a hard decision and he understands the dilemma that Marchi is in.
“Well, through my experience of having a biceps tear a couple of times, if you rest up and tape it up good, he will probably ride a little bit,” Palermo said. “He won’t be 100 percent. He is going to be right there in the middle at 50 percent. I think he is going to be OK for right now. It is hard. If you keep your elbow bent it will be fine, if you straighten up a little bit, then he is going to feel (a lot of) pain. I told him, if you keep your elbow bent and work it out and ice it, I think he can make it to the Finals.”
Marchi has never torn his biceps before and called it one of the worst injuries of his 12-year career.
It is why as bad as he wants to say he will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or Nashville, there is also a slight possibility he will hold off on not competing until the Built Ford World Finals on Oct. 21-25 in Las Vegas.
“I think I am going to do surgery after Finals,” Marchi said. “I feel like maybe I go to Tulsa next week, maybe I don’t go until Tucson. Maybe I go to Nashville. I will wait a couple more weeks. I need surgery, but I want to get it after Finals.”
Marchi has finished inside the Top 10 of the world standings in 10 consecutive seasons, and he has qualified for the Built Ford Tough World Finals every year since his PBR debut in 2004.
The injury certainly puts his streak of Top-10 finishes in jeopardy, but the 33-year-old fan favorite said he doesn’t expect the injury to force him into retirement.
“I don’t know,” Marchi said. “It is too early to say. I feel like I still have fun and I still can ride bulls. I have many opportunities in Brazil, but I feel it is too early for me to retire yet. I still have one more year. Maybe more. I don’t know. I don’t care to retire. I know I am going to come back strong for next year.”
There is also Marchi’s deep desire to potentially win a second World Championship.
“I know it is going to be hard to win another title, but you never know,” he concluded. “You have to believe in yourself and have determination to keep working hard for the dream. I have a dream to be a World Champion again. I want to accomplish my dream.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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