By: Justin Felisko
OCALA, Fla. – It took only a few minutes on Saturday afternoon in Ocala, Florida, for the 2021 PBR World Championship race to take an early season plot twist.
In back-to-back outs, gold buckle favorites Jose Vitor Leme and Jess Lockwood each had to be assisted to the PBR sports medicine room during the opening round of Competition 1 of the PBR Monster Energy Invitational with potentially significant injuries.
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Leme was on his way to a local hospital to get X-rays to see if he had broken his right ankle when Dirty Sancho bucked him off and stepped on him in Round 1, while Lockwood will head back to Dallas after the weekend to have his apparent broken jaw evaluated and to see if he needs surgery. Leme may also need surgery depending on if his ankle is fractured and the severity.
Both riders are listed as doubtful for Sunday’s Competition in Ocala.
Leme knew immediately something was wrong as he struggled to get to rider walk off. He eventually made his way to a Monster Energy cooler where he put his head down and punched the side in frustration.
The 24-year-old is one of the favorites to win the 2021 World Championship, and he also is attempting to become the second rider in PBR history to win consecutive world titles.
This was not the way Leme envisioned his season beginning as the reigning World Champion.
Leme, though, was still staying positive as he hobbled to the locker room with the help of a set of crutches and his right foot in a boot.
“I don’t think anybody wants to start their season like this, but I hope my ankle is good,” Leme said. “I will get X-rays to see what is happening and just wait for God to put his hands on it. Hopefully it is nothing to bad. I think he stepped on my knee and my ankle. I don’t remember to much. We will see how it goes. If broke, I may need surgery, but we will see what the X-rays say.”
In a wild span of roughly five minutes, Leme and Lockwood were both dealt injuries to begin their 2021 seasons.
Even more odd was the fact that both riders were have ruled to have been bucked off in 2.75 seconds.
The opening day of Ocala brings back shades of last season’s premier series event in Kansas City, Missouri, where Leme and Lockwood both sustained injuries in a span of less than 24 hours. Leme broke his ribs when he was slammed by The Right Stuff, while Lockwood, who also injured his chest in the 15/15, would tear his left hamstring the following day when he caught his spur in his bull rope following his 91.5-point ride on I’m Legit Too.
Now both riders immediate futures will remain cloudy as they await further diagnosis of their injuries.
Lockwood’s injury happened when Detroit Lean yanked him over the front end and his horn caught Lockwood in the jaw underneath his facemask.
The 23-year-old’s jaw was swollen as he left the PBR Sports Medicine room, and the two-time World Champion talked about his injury history before the start of the event.
Lockwood has missed 37 event weekends since turning pro in 2016, but he has continuously bounced back and remain in world title contention.
“It is what is going to come with the sport, the injuries,” Lockwood said on Saturday morning. “I can’t do anything but rehab and do whatever it takes to get myself fully healed and back to my ability before the injury. It is just something you take with bull riding and the victories.”
2018 World Champion Pacheco sustains concussion
Kaique Pacheco was unable to compete in the championship round Saturday after he sustained a concussion when his head the ground following an 84.75-point ride on Constant Sorrow.
According to Dr. Freeman, Pacheco is questionable for Sunday. Pacheco will need to clear the PBR’s concussion protocol on Sunday morning.
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