Sport

Pro bull-riding circuit success no easy ride

Troy Dunn has a lifetime of professional bull-riding experience under his belt.
Troy Dunn has a lifetime of professional bull-riding experience under his belt. Sharon Smallwood

IT'S not a matter of "if" you'll get hurt in this sport. It's a matter of "when" and "how badly".

And the insurance cover isn't great.

So why on earth would anyone want to become a bull rider?

"That's a bloody good question," said Glen Young, general manager at Professional Bull Riding Australia.

"Speaking from my own perspective, I started out riding bulls when I was 12 years old," Mr Young said.

"I'd played a lot of team sports. I was decent at rugby league and rugby union and then I had my first go on a bull," he said.

"What you put into it is what you get out of it. It's a personal kind of sport.

"It'd be very similar to a golf player, I reckon.

"It's the mental aspect of it all, it's the physical aspect of it all.

"The only person you've got to blame is yourself if you don't do any good.

"(North Queensland-born bull rider) Troy Dunn always says they've got to have a big ticker, a whole lot of determination and a heap of dedication."

For the best of the best, there's the attraction of the world championship with its million-dollar bonus.

So how do you become a pro bull rider?

"In Australia kids will get started ridin' steers and junior bulls," Mr Young said.

"They'll progress through to the rodeo circuit. When they're winnin' there then they'll come and test themselves on the PBR tour," he said.

"They'll keep entering until they qualify and then it's up to them to do well and stay qualified to be in the top 40 in the nation to be able to compete on the PBR tour.

"Our competition is very hard to win. You can be the best bull rider in the country and you may not win an event all year long.

"You've got 40 guys goin' in there, all of equal ability, and it just really comes down to getting the right bull on the night.

"I've been involved in the sport since it first started and I've never been able to pick a winner of an event.

"No one leaves these competitions until the last bull of the night, because that's the No 1 man in the competition. If he can pull it off in the last bull ride of the night he can win the event."

Not everyone wants to go overseas to make it.

"Dave Kennedy, our four-times Australian champion, he's a father of three kids, got a fourth on the way," Mr Young said.

"He's done the US tour but you know it's not really his cup of tea because he's a

family man trying to establish life after the sport here in our country," he said.

"But he just won the Australian title, so he gets automatically qualified into the world finals in Las Vegas in October, through competing in Australia.

"He's riding for a couple of hundred thousand dollars per round over there. On one bull he could win more than he could win in Australia all year long."

Australian Regional Media, publisher of Rural Weekly and the Fraser Coast Chronicle, has teamed up with PBR Australia to deliver an adrenaline-filled series of bull riding events around the regions.

Top bull riders will be chasing valuable competition points plus an ARM prize bonus of $20,000.

Topics:  bull riding extreme sports hervey bay pbr



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