PUEBLO, Colo. – Valdiron de Oliveira’s brother, Valter, is 50 years old and still riding bulls at various local rodeos in Brazil.
Now, that doesn’t mean that Valdiron hopes to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but Valdiron has decided he is not ready to call it quits when it comes to his PBR career.
In November, Oliveira admitted he was leaning toward having 2015 be his last in the PBR.
Yet the 36-year-old has had a bounce back season following two years of finishing outside the Top-15 of the world standings and the former annual world title contender feels he has at least another one or two years left in him.
Oliveira, currently ranked sixth in the world standings, talked things over with his wife, Andrea, during the summer break and said he is confident he will be returning in 2016.
“Well, I took time in my house with my wife and I took two months (to think it over),” he said. “I want to come back next year because I feel OK. I feel right. I feel strong. There is no time for me to retire right now. I want to ride more. Maybe I will ride one more year, maybe two more years. I don’t know.”
Oliveira has gone 26-for-53 this season on the BFTS and his 49.06 percent riding average is his highest since 2012 (60.92 percent), when he finished fourth in the world standings. That year was his fifth consecutive Top-5 finish in the world standings.
Back surgery in 2012 put an end to his string of success, and Oliveira had only shown glimpses of his prior self in the past two years. Last season, he suffered through a 4-for-36 slump and it appeared his window for a world title was all about over.
However, this year Oliveira has kept himself within the Top 10 of the world standings, and his 26 qualified rides through the first 18 events are his most since 2012.
“I talk to all of the riders and some friends told me I can ride until I am 40 years old,” Oliveira said. “I don’t want to ride until I am 40 years old. I want to stop when I am 37, 38. I don’t want to continue when I am 40 years old because this sport is too dangerous and it is hard to get on some bulls. My mind thinks it is OK, but physically I don’t feel OK.”
Oliveira believes he can make a potential run at world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira during the stretch run to the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
“I am No. 6 and we are all close,” Oliveira said. “I have a lot of chances for the win. I am 36 years old. All the kids say everything is about health, but I feel like them.”
Oliveira spent the summer break in Brazil rehabbing his sprained left MCL. He returned to the United States two weeks ago and competed at this past weekend’s Kasey Hayes / Stormy Wing Invitational in Guymon, Oklahoma.
He was bucked off by Black Cat.
Along with spending time with his family in Goias, Brazil, Oliveira went horseback riding to help his leg and he also went fishing.
Oliveira garnered some social media attention when he posted a picture on Instagram of a massive fish that was nearly as tall as him earlier this month.
“I put a little fish on the hook and (caught) a monster,” Oliveira said. “I think he was four or five feet. He looks almost my size.”
Vieira is now the fish that Oliveira needs to catch once the BFTS resumes on Aug. 7 in Biloxi, Mississippi, with the Battle at the Beau – Oliveira won the 2014 Battle at the Beau.
Oliveira knows Vieira’s 1,600-plus point lead on him is a big one, but he also knows there are eight events remaining until the World Finals, as well as the final PBR Major of the season (The Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout) in Nashville.
“Right now, Joao has to stay healthy and stay strong,” Oliveira said. “It is no problem for him. He still is riding good. It is not easy to catch him, but it depends because I don’t know. Every day is a different day and every month is a different month.
“Twice I was pretty close to winning the World Championship and guys have passed me. It is hard to say Joao is going to win. It is too soon for that. It is just as hard for him to win as it is for us to catch him. We all want to win too.”
The Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout is adopting the old Iron Cowboy format, which Oliveira won in 2010. However, this year’s version in Nashville will feature an expanded field (36 riders) and a Second Chance bracket for the Top 8 riders eliminated to have another opportunity to make it into the Final Four.
There is also a 240-point bonus available to the rider with the highest-aggregate ride score.
Oliveira believes that bonus will be a good incentive for riders to try and make the 8-second mark compared to previous years when riders knew they could last less than 8 seconds, but still eliminate their opponent if he didn’t make a qualified ride.
“It is not too easy,” Oliveira said. “It is hard because you have to get on five bulls. It is a lot different now. You need to stay on the bulls because there are a lot of points. You need to get the points.”
Oliveira concluded that he is ready for the BFTS to get back underway.
“Now I am going to come back and hopefully keep riding very good,” Oliveira said. “This break was good. I was able to rest my knee and I feel better now.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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