PUEBLO, Colo. – Valdiron de Oliveira will turn 36 years old during the middle of next season, and he understands that it is getting harder to succeed alongside the next generation of PBR bull riders.
Oliveira laughs when his age is brought up. The 35-year-old knows you can’t fight off Father Time physically, therefore, he is going to try and think like the younger riders on the BFTS in the New Year.
“I want to work on my mind and my body,” he said. “If you think like an old man you can’t ride good. You have to think like a young bull rider and all of these kids. You can’t think, ‘Oh, I am old. I can’t ride.’ You have to try like these young kids.”
It is why Oliviera recently competed at the L.J. Jenkins Invitational this past weekend in Clovis, N.M., and partially why he is tentatively scheduled to ride at the BlueDEF Velocity Tour events in Ontario, California, and Bakersfield, California, later this month.
Along with trying to remain in good riding shape for 2015, he also wants to remain around some of the sports up-and-coming stars that are trying to get a head start on the upcoming season.
“This sport, you need to be young and I am 35,” he continued. “Once you are past 35, it is old for this sport because you need to be flexible and fast mentally. When you get old, your (reaction time) gets slow.”
While 2014 wasn’t Oliveira’s best, the rider who underwent career-threatening back surgery for a herniated disc in 2012 still had a respectable season following the worst streak of his career when he went 4-for-36 over the course of seven months.
Oliveira finished the season 17th in the world standings despite a career-low 35.8 percent riding average. However, he won multiple (Biloxi, Miss., and Anaheim, Calif.) BFTS events for the first time since 2011, and prior to his slump he was third in the world standings.
The right-handed bull rider clearly showed glimpses of the cowboy that was a perennial title contender from 2008-12. He also competed in every 2014 BFTS event, including the Monster Energy Bulls on the Beach in Huntington Beach, California.
“This year was OK to me,” Oliveira said. “It’s been good to me because I went to all of the events and I wasn’t hurt. I won two events and for me it is OK. It was good.
“The Finals was no good to me this year, but sometimes you are good and sometimes you are bad when you get on bulls.”
Not including his 0-for-4 performance at the Built Ford Tough World Finals, Oliveira finished the regular season 6-for-10 and was beginning to feel like he was regaining his form.
Oliveira is planning to not get caught up on riding rank bulls or worrying about how strong a certain bull is next year. Instead, he wants to keep focusing on the little things and remaining fresh for another full season on tour.
The Aparecida De Goiania, Brazil, bull rider thinks it is important to try and continue building off the success he had at the end of 2014, thanks in part to the work of Brazil physical therapist Felipe Garcia.
Garcia, who is close friends with Marco Eguchi, accompanied Oliviera and the other Brazilians on the BFTS to Las Vegas for the World Finals and continued to work on Oliveira’s back. The treatment he received during October helped him regain his ability to shift his weight and counter a bull when the animal athlete changed directions. A stiff back leads to a lack of flexibility and it comes as no surprise that once Oliviera’s back felt better, so too did his confidence.
“My back feels OK now,” Oliveira said. “It feels alright. It is getting stronger. I am going to the gym and the bull ridings too so that next year I am in better shape.”
According to Oliveira, his back becomes tight and sore when he does not remain active and riding bulls. He hopes that by going to these BlueDEF Velocity Tour events, as well as some Touring Pro Division events, he will remain loose and ready for 2015.
“The more I rest, the more my body needs to work to figure out how to ride,” he said. “If I rest, I can’t ride good. I come to the Touring Pro events so that I can start next year the way I ended this year.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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