Thrills in the line of fire

No fear, just a de­ter­mi­na­tion to keep PBR’s best bull rid­ers out of harm’s way

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - GEORDI OFFORD Geordi.offord@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

HE DRIVES trains for Aur­i­zon by day, but by night he puts his body on the line, as a PBR pro­tec­tion ath­lete.

Clint Kelly, 25, has been chas­ing bulls with the well-known or­gan­i­sa­tion since 2012, but be­ing a bull fighter wasn’t how it all be­gan.

Grow­ing up in Clon­curry he used to at­tend rodeos with his mates for a bit of fun.

“I rode my first ju­nior or rookie bull when I was about 14 or 15, I was never re­ally that good at it though,” he said.

“I had a go at pro­tect­ing the rider, it re­ally just hap­pened by ac­ci­dent.”

Clint got his big break after liv­ing with an ex-PBR pro­tec­tion ath­lete.

“I was re­ally priv­i­leged to live with him, he got me my first start,” he said

“I hadn’t re­ally ex­pe­ri­enced any­thing like it be­fore be­cause it’s not like your nor­mal rodeo.

“It’s all bull rid­ing, large crowds, loud mu­sic and flames, the works.”

Sur­pris­ingly, Clint said it was not the adren­a­line that kept him com­ing back for more.

“It’s a job not many peo­ple want to do,” he said.

“So when you get told you’re do­ing a good job that’s what I keep do­ing it for.

“We aren’t re­ally scared of the bull, we’re scared of fail­ing to pro­tect the rider after they’ve come off.”

Although help­ing the rider is se­ri­ous busi­ness, he said there was still time for fun in the arena.

“I’m pretty good mates with the other pro­tec­tion ath­letes,” he said.

“We try and have as much fun as we can while we’re out there and will talk and have a joke.

“It re­ally helps take away the fo­cus of it be­ing dan­ger­ous so we can do a good job.”

While many buck­ing bulls pass through the chutes, Clint said he treated them all the same.

“At the end of the day I want to see them ride the bull for those eight sec­onds,” he said.

“A lot of the time it doesn’t hap­pen like that though.”

Clint said they could wear as much or as lit­tle pro­tec­tion in the ring as they liked.

“I wear a vest un­der my jer­sey and some padded pants un­der my shorts and that’s pretty much it,” he said.

He said any­one could be­come a bull fighter.

“Peo­ple from all walks of life can have a go,” he said.

“It’s all about get­ting onto the right peo­ple and try­ing to get in­volved in any way you can.

“Not many peo­ple grow up want­ing to do it.”

With more events on the PBR cir­cuit still to come, Clint said it was al­ways nice be­ing in the ring at home.

“I get to do it in front of my friends and fam­ily which is pretty cool,” he said.

“I get to fin­ish work dur­ing the day and do my thing in the ring that night.

“When I tell peo­ple what I do it’s a bit of a mixed re­ac­tion, not many peo­ple know what it is, so it takes a bit of ex­plain­ing.”

❝ We aren’t re­ally scared of the bull, we’re scared of fail­ing to pro­tect the rider after they’ve come off. — Clint Kelly

PHOTO: ELISE DERWIN

FAST MOVES: Clint Kelly works as a train driver for a liv­ing. At night how­ever, he steps into the arena to dance with pow­er­ful bulls like Fudd.

PHO­TOS: ELISE DERWIN

IN THE HOT SEAT: PBR Aus­tralia pro­tec­tion ath­lete Clint Kelly.

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