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Watching over a winner; Two-time PBR World Champion credits tokens of luck, hard work

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BACK-TO-BACK WORLD CHAMP – Brazil native Silvano Alves, who resides in Decatur during the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series, became the first to win the World Championship two consecutive years. Alves was also the first to win the World Championship a year after earning the Rookie of the Year title in 2010 and was the quickest to reach the $1, $2 and $3 million-mark in earnings. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

There’s a gold pin affixed to Silvano Alves’ brown felt, cowboy hat.

It’s a saint that the Brazilian bull rider believes has “protected him” through his travels to competitions and rides atop unhappy cattle enroute to his success as a competitor in Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events.

Success like that seen on Sunday, when Alves became the first man in PBR history to win back-to-back Built Ford Tough Series World Championships at the Thomas and Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. This came after he won the first World Championship last year, a year after he was the PBR’s Rookie of the Year in 2010.

That was the year Alves and his family moved to the United States.

CRUCIAL POINTS – Silvano Alves rides High Octane Hurricane for 87.5 points in the Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas this weekend. Alves held onto a 659.25 lead to clinch the World Champion title for the second straight year. Photo courtesy of Andy Watson, BullStockMedia.com

All that success was garnered through his guardian’s watchfulness, his own hard work, a love for the sport and a little luck, said the 24-year-old from Pilar do Sul, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“He has watched over me through it all,” Alves said. “I have that and a love for the sport. I’m passionate about it, and that motivates me to train. There’s also some luck involved because you don’t compete with another person. You compete with the bull, and sometimes you’re lucky enough to draw a good bull.

“You also have to be healthy,” he continued. “Thanks to God, I have never had a serious injury, never broken a bone. I’ve been hit, and I’ve fallen off. But nothing too serious.”

Alves’ “luck” was tested last weekend. The finals were back-and-forth top-spot trades between Alves and five others – Valdiron de Oliveira (who resides in Boyd), fellow Brazilian Guilherme Marchi and L.J. Jenkins, Austin Meier and J.B. Mauney. This year’s field was the deepest in the 19-year history of the World Finals, according to the PBR.

But with a 659.25-point lead, Alves snagged the World title and $1 million, bringing his season earnings to $1,464,475.61 and career total to $3,248,019.

In record-breaking fashion, Alves surpassed the $3 million mark in 76 events and 28 months, faster than any bull rider in history. He also reached $2 million (23 months and 58 events), and $1 million (18 months and 47 events) faster than any rider ever.

“Last year it went really good, but this year was a little more tricky,” he said. “I only had a 500-point lead, and I also fell off a few bulls. That lowered my confidence, and I wasn’t really sure I’d be able to pull off the win.

“So when I won, it was a lot more exciting.”

And there’s potential for more. Alves, who returns to his native country during breaks from PBR events in the United States, also competes in the Brazil series. He enters the PBR Brazil finals – to be held Nov. 21 through 25 – sitting at fourth, despite having missed at least five events while competing here.

But despite the opportunity for success in Brazil – and the fact that much of his extended family remains there – Alves, his wife of four years, Evelyn; daughter Hanylle, 3, and son Eduardo, 1 – plan to continue to call Wise County home.

Alves grew up watching his father participate in local bull riding competitions and had his first go at age 13.

“I fell in love then,” he said. “And I’ve progressed from there and began competing professionally in 2005 and eventually got good enough to qualify for the world championship once I got here.”

That was in 2010, when the family moved to the United States and lived in Gainesville for a few months before relocating to Decatur, where friends lived.

“As long as I ride, I plan to be here,” he said. “I really like it here in Wise County. Plus, I want to take advantage of the education system and give my kids the opportunity to grow up here.”

It was the availability of those opportunities that attracted Alves and the many other Brazilian bull riders who transplanted to a country that prides itself in offering them.

“I had always wanted to come to the United States,” Alves said. “It’s a common thing in Brazil. People want to come and check out the opportunities. I came and ended up being able to ride so it was a win-win.”

And, he hopes, with the gold saint pinned to his hat, those winning opportunities continue.

BIG WINNINGS – With the back-to-back World Champion title, Silvano Alves won $1 million, bringing his season earnings to $1,464,475.61. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

This interview was conducted with the help of Portuguese translator Corey Jones. The quotes attributed to Silvano may not be a word-for-word translation of what he said. A thank you to Jones for his time and effort.

LOCAL RIDERS ALL FINISH IN TOP 20

Seven bull riders with local ties entertained thousands and finished the season strong at the 2012 Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas last week.

Brazilian Silvano Alves, who also has a home in Decatur, won the world title for the second year in a row with 12,201.25 points, just 659.25 points ahead of second place. He earned $1,464,475.61 this season.

Going into the Finals, Valdiron de Oliveira was ranked second and was just 505 points behind Alves, but he finished fourth with 10,608.25 points and $208,724.52 for the season.

Local riders and Brazilian natives Renato Nunes, Marco Eguchi and Fabiano Vieira all finished in the top 10. Nunes came in at sixth with 9,859.75 points and $254,709.57 in earnings. Eguchi and Vieria finished ninth and 10th respectively, with only 22 points separating them. Eguchi had 7,699.25 ponits, and Vieira scored 7,677.25 points. Their earnings were $226,255.50 and $191,399.08.

Mike Lee finished the season in 13th place with 6,088 points and earnings of $147,952.34, and Ben Jones came in at 18th with 4,840.75 and $115,844.10 in winnings.

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