By: Justin Felisko
August 04, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Valdiron de Oliveira was laughing at Wallace de Oliveira for being a 37-year-old rookie and an “old man” when Wallace quickly pointed his finger at Valdiron and said, “No. No. No,” last weekend in Big Sky, Montana.
His finger wag was by no means as forceful as NBA great Dikembe Mutombo, but Wallace then smiles and says, “You are five days older than me.”
The two long-time friends then erupted in laughter and slapped each other on the back.
Wallace has brought a youthful invigoration to Valdiron this season. Instead of spending the summer at home in Decatur, Texas, Valdiron has felt reenergized to hit the PBR summer trail like a wide-eyed rookie.
Both are 37-year-old veteran bull riders. The difference being that Valdiron has 10 years of full-time experience on the Built Ford Tough Series since making his debut in 2007, while Wallace is amidst his first year and only has 62 career BFTS outs under his belt.
Wallace is leading the Rookie of the Year race and is eighth in the world standings. Valdiron is on pace to qualify for his 10th consecutive PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals and is 23rd in the world.
“I am very happy because I am competing with these young guys for Rookie of the Year,” Wallace said. “I am very happy to be riding at this time with these young guys. I am very happy for the competition.”
Valdiron likes to poke fun at Wallace about being in a rookie class with kids like 18-year-old Jess Lockwood and 19-year-old Derek Kolbaba.
All kidding aside, though, Valdiron has been truly impressed with Wallace’s 2016 season, which began with a victory at the BFTS-opener in Chicago.
“I am very proud for him because I know Wallace a long time ago,” Valdiron said. “I rode with him in Brazil, but he is pretty new (to the United States). Only year and a half. I am surprised (how well he has done) because the bulls here are more hard. He has come and put his mindset said, ‘I want to do it.’
“He knows he doesn’t have much more time. He wants to do this for maybe four more years. He needs to hurry. He needs to work. He needs to focus mentally.”
Regardless of age or experience, both riders have hit the ground running this summer with each rider having notched a victory since the BFTS began its break following Last Cowboy Standing.
Valdiron recently won the Sterling, Colorado, Next EREA Touring Pro Division event by going 2-for-2 on Tuesday, while Wallace won the Salinas, California, BlueDEF Tour event with an 87.5-point ride on Captain Jack.
Wallace bounced back from a vicious wreck that left a gruesome gash above his left eye in Sterling by placing sixth at the Goodland, Kansas, Western Plains Chute Out last night.
“I still work out every day,” Wallace said with the help of Valdiron translating in Big Sky, Montana. “I know I have a chance to do something. This is important for the (PBR Finals week) run. My body is in good shape.”
It’s been a busy summer for each rider. Including double entries, Wallace has nodded his head at 17 summer events, going 6-for-30 (20 percent). Valdiron has appeared in 14 summer draws and has gone 10-for-21 (47.61 percent).
Both riders are expected to ride Thursday at the Brighton, Colorado, TPD event. Wallace has drawn Herbie in Round 1, and Valdiron will square off against Billy Jack.
Why are they pushing themselves so hard with their positions on the BFTS locked in relative place for the second half?
The BFTS resumes on Aug. 19 in Nashville with the Frontier Communications Music City Knockout, presented by Cooper Tires.
“Most of the time I rest,” Valdiron said. “This year I don’t have much time anymore. I feel like my body bothers me more a little bit. I have put in my mind and say, ‘I don’t have much time. I need to hurry. I need to do something to get better.’
“This year I decided I am going to ride at every Touring Pro and BlueDEF event because I have too.”
Valdiron doesn’t shy away from the fact that retirement may be in his near future. He almost retired at the end of last season and admits he has had thoughts about retiring after this year, but then there are other times he realizes he is nowhere near ready to call it quits.
Part of his indecision revolves around the fact that this is the first time he and Wallace have been able to ride together in the PBR on a full-time basis.
The two are both from Goias, Brazil, and first traveled together to rodeos in Brazil in 1998 after meeting each other the year prior.
“He is still the same old friend,” Valdiron concluded. “He don’t worry about too much. He don’t think about Rookie of the Year. He is staying relaxed and is enjoying being with his friends.
“We are enjoying spending time together.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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