Bull rider who’s all heart

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - THE SNITCH - BEN PIKE

BULL RIDER Bradie Gray’s heart stopped beat­ing when a gi­ant bull stomped on his chest dur­ing a US rodeo — and now he’s go­ing to show how strong that heart is by get­ting back in the sad­dle.

The 21-year-old en­dured mul­ti­ple rounds of surgery fol­low­ing the 2017 in­ci­dent on the com­pet­i­tive Amer­i­can col­lege rodeo cir­cuit in Wy­oming and his par­ents were told there was lit­tle chance their son would sur­vive.

Now Gray is pre­par­ing to get on a bull in front of his home crowd in Tam­worth, to prove he’s not just back on his feet but beaten the night­mares that plagued him af­ter his near-death ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Af­ter Wy­oming I was dream­ing about dy­ing and wak­ing up in a panic, un­able to breathe,” Gray said. “It was dur­ing a time when I was re­cov­er­ing from surgery and I had not yet trusted my body.

“I was stress­ing out that some­thing was go­ing to go wrong.

“With time they have gone away and I don’t think about it any­more.”

Gray’s 55kg and 175cm frame is rel­a­tively small for a bull rider.

Since 2014 he has suf­fered from a badly bruised heart, nine cracked ribs, col­lapsed lung, bro­ken col­lar­bone, torn groin, two bro­ken jaws and a bro­ken back.

But be­ing taller and heav­ier is no guar­an­tee of pro- tec­tion, ei­ther. In 2012 the Aus­tralian Med­i­cal Jour­nal said bull rid­ing has the high­est rate of in­jury of any rodeo sport.

A study at Rock­hamp­ton Hos­pi­tal in Queens­land found one in ev­ery 130 bull rides re­sults in a hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sion, with limbs, chest and brain dam­age the most com­mon in­juries.

To help get him back into shape Gray en­listed the help of a nu­tri­tion­ist and has been hit­ting the gym like a man pos­sessed.

But he’s also had some un­ex­pected sup­port in his cor­ner.

“Muay Thai fighter Ben Bur­rage has been help­ing me with fit­ness and spar­ring,” he said.

“Peo­ple have told me that I am not strong enough or big enough or that I should give up,

“But I want to prove a lot of peo­ple wrong. Bull rid­ing has been part of my life since I was a baby.”

Bur­rage said Gray is a very hard worker.

“He’s just got the right men­tal­ity to push through the hard things, even in train­ing; he’s one of those blokes who was al­ways go­ing to suc­ceed in what­ever he does,” Bur­rage said.

“The skills we use and the train­ing gives you a high level of fit­ness us­ing func­tional skills.

“He’s one of those blokes ev­ery­one want to train, as he gets in and has a dig and re­ally ap­plies him­self 100 per cent to the task.”

The Pro­fes­sional Bull Rid­ers Mon­ster En­ergy Tour Iron Cow­boy event on Novem­ber 17 will at­tract 22 cowboys rid­ing 52 bulls.

Those who make it through next week­end’s event will go onto the PBR Grand Fi­nals in Townsville.

Bradie’s fa­ther Mick Gray, a bull rider him­self, said he will never for­get the mo­ment last year when his son was rushed to hos­pi­tal.

“My heart just jumps when I think about it, es­pe­cially when it is your own child,” he said.

“I know now what I put my own mum and dad through. The ma­jor­ity of the crowd at Tam­worth will know who he is and will get be­hind him. “We are so proud of him. It takes guts to work his way back.”

Bradie Gray has re­cov­ered from his near-death ex­pe­ri­ence and will get back on a bull (right) at Tam­worth. Main pic­ture: Nathan Ed­wards

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.