From poddy rider to PBR

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Rural Weekly - GE­ORDI OF­FORD Ge­ordi.of­ford@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

HIS first poddy ride left him bruised and with bloody nose, but even as a five-year-old Ja­son Mara was hun­gry for more.

Fast for­ward to 2018 he is ranked num­ber six in Aus­tralia and 42 in the world in the PBR.

Last week­end the 31-year-old ath­lete took to the world stage in Syd­ney for the Global Cup with three wins in a row un­der his belt.

Whilst sit­ting in his ho­tel room in the NSW cap­i­tal relaxing with a cup of tea, Ja­son caught up with the Ru­ral Weekly to chat about his life as a bull rider.

EIGHT SE­CONDS

JA­SON Mara had the adren­a­line of bull rid­ing pump­ing through his veins from a young age.

His first poddy ride took place at a rodeo at Brunette Downs in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

He got smacked in the face hard enough to make his nose bleed, but that didn’t phase the young cow­boy.

“I just wanted to keep go­ing,” he said.

“We went to a lot of rodeos when I was a kid and I used to ha­rass my par­ents to let me have a go.” Af­ter be­gin­ning to ride the bulls at 15, it took him three years be­fore he joined the ranks of PBR ath­letes.

“My par­ents didn’t re­ally think rid­ing bulls as a ca­reer was ideal but I’ve al­ways had their sup­port,” he said.

“They said it’s bet­ter than roam­ing the streets and get­ting into trou­ble but they sup­port me and the ef­fort I’ve put into it.”

In the be­gin­ning Ja­son wasn’t phased by the PBR rank­ings.

“I just wanted to give it a crack,” he said.

Re­cently, he won three rides in a row in Mount Cot­ton, Rock­hamp­ton and the Cairns In­vi­ta­tional be­fore go­ing into the PBR Global Cup as a part of Team Aus­tralia.

“Three in a row is def­i­nitely a high­light for me, it’s a per­sonal best,” he said.

“I didn’t expect to be in the Aus­tralian team but the re­sults have got me here.

“It def­i­nitely helped build some con­fi­dence go­ing into it.”

The cow­boy’s prepa­ra­tion for a ride be­gins long be­fore the event.

“On the day you just try and for­get what you’re do­ing and hope for the best,” he said.

“There’s not re­ally too much else you can do but hope your train­ing has paid off.”

But Ja­son said the key to good rid­ing was be­ing re­laxed.

“When you’re pre­par­ing for a ride it’s all about keep­ing your mind sharp but at the same time stay­ing re­laxed and fo­cussing on your breath­ing,” he said.

“You get your turn on the good bulls and not so good bulls.

“I don’t worry about it too much be­cause it hin­ders your rid­ing, name of the game is to expect the un­ex­pected.”

With more rid­ing still to come for Ja­son, he said there were still a few goals in the dirt he wanted to kick up.

“I’d like to make it over to com­pete in the big PBR event they do in Las Ve­gas some­day,” he said.

“There’s also a bull called Fully Locked and Loaded I want to ride, he’s bucked me off be­fore and I re­ally want to get on him again.”

Last week­end Ja­son com­peted as a part of Team Aus­tralia in the PBR Global Cup in Syd­ney.

“It was a pretty tough com­pe­ti­tion, we were knock­ing on the door of the lead for a while but in the end we were only beaten by Brazil by three quar­ters of a point,” he said.

“We were so close but we’ve made a state­ment to the world and they know who we are.

“The crowd got be­hind the Aus­tralian team, it was a re­ally good at­mos­phere.”

LIFE ON THE ROAD

BORN and raised in Clon­curry, Ja­son calls the Rock­hamp­ton re­gion home re­sid­ing on his 60ha prop­erty near Kalapa.

Some of his child­hood was spent mov­ing around the North­ern Ter­ri­tory where his dad used to man­age cattle prop­er­ties such as Ben­mara Sta­tion.

“We moved back to Clon­curry when I was in Year 4 and we fin­ished school there,” he said.

Bull-rid­ing was very much a fam­ily affair for Ja­son hav­ing com­peted against his brother Troy in the past.

“He’s re­tired from bull rid­ing now but we used to com­pete against each other a fair bit,” he said.

“We used to give each other feed­back on our rides and I can still do that now with the other rid­ers I travel with.”

But bull rid­ing aside Ja­son likes spend­ing his free time at home with his cattle, horses and dogs.

PHOTO: ELISE DER­WIN

ON THE ROAD: Ethan Watts and Ja­son Mara in the change rooms at Cairns In­vi­ta­tional in Cairns Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

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