By: Justin Felisko August 16, 2014@ 11:45:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Guilherme Marchi was laying down in the sports medicine room deep inside the BOK Center on Saturday night with his eyes closed.
A cold bag of ice sat on his injured right knee as his son, Joao Gabriel, went to pose for a picture with defending World Champion J.B. Mauney.
While watching Joao Gabriel, Marchi tried to issue a smile, but he couldn’t hide the disappointment he was feeling.
The current No. 1 rider in the world had arrived in Tulsa this week in hopes of picking up where he left off during the first half of the Built Ford Tough Series and continue his march toward a second world title.
However, Marchi had to withdraw from the Express Employment Professionals Classic prior to Round 2 on Saturday after re-aggravating his partially torn PCL, sustained at Last Cowboy Standing in May.
Dr. Tandy Freeman looked over the knee and, according to Marchi, the Brazilian will visit Freeman on Monday to get a knee brace fitted. Marchi said he was leaning toward not competing in two weeks at the next BFTS event in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
“I wish I can stay healthy to finish this race pretty good and strong,” Marchi said. “Right now, it starts to hurt and I am getting toward the end of my career, but that is part of the sport. I need to go fix it and come back and see what I can do.
“I felt good last night when I got on the bull and I felt very confident and felt my knee was good because I rested for a long time this summer. I thought it healed good, but then I put pressure on it and it felt totally different. I feel so sore today near my PCL in the back. I don’t know what I did.”
Freeman called Marchi week-to-week.
“He had a partial tear from Vegas and he sored up his knee last night,” Freeman said. “He needs to be braced, so we will do that and when his knee feels better he will ride again. He is thinking he will not ride in Thackerville, but he may change his mind if he gets to feeling better. It may bother him for the rest of the season; we will just have to see how he does.”
After finishing up icing his knee, Marchi left sports medicine to watch the beginning of the final night of competition only to have to return later in the evening to assist his friend Fabiano Vieira.
Vieira, the No. 2 rider in the world standings, was assisted to sports medicine after immediately grabbing his right shoulder when he was bucked off to the ground in 1.25 seconds by Doctor Wishes.
The 32-year-old was in tremendous pain and was diagnosed with a dislocated right shoulder – the same unstable one that caused him to miss Last Cowboy Standing, and the one that he refuses to have surgery on. He was eventually brought to a local Tulsa hospital to have the shoulder reduced under sedation. He is listed as questionable for Thackerville.
A concerned Marchi left the BOK Center with Vieira.
Marchi admits that his injury – and now Vieira’s, as well – has opened the door for others attempting to make a run at the World Championship with seven events remaining in the regular season.
“Everybody fight the same for this spot,” he said. “I have great chance, but everybody in the Top 10 has a great chance, too. I am going to open more doors for those people in the back, too, but I need to fix these things first and see what is happening.”
In terms of the Top 5 of the world standings, only Silvano Alves was able to gain any ground on Marchi. Thanks to his 84-point ride on Red Top, he now trails Marchi by 833.94 points.
The big gainer was event winner Gage Gay. The rookie is now up to seventh in the world standings and shaved 750.25 points off Marchi’s lead. Gay sits 1,959.06 points behind the top spot.
Once Marchi visits Freeman, the 32-year-old says he is planning on then returning to Brazil, possibly as early as Tuesday, to continue working with physical therapist Nivaldo Baldo. Baldo not only worked with Marchi this summer, but Robson Palermo, as well.
The main thing Marchi doesn’t want to do is rush himself back to competition or force himself to ride hurt if there is time to rest. He also admitted that he doesn’t feel confident in the knee right now, which is certainly not a recipe for success.
The 2008 World Champion noted that in 2005, when he finished second in the world, he tried to compete during the stretch run that with injured ribs, and in 2010, he ended up missing the final four events of the BFTS due to a riding hand injury before World Finals and wound up finishing seventh in the world.
Marchi rather be healthy to make his run this year.
“Everything is going the wrong way right now, but we are going to fix it and make it go the right way,” he concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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