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Three-time champ Tim O’Connell out 6 months with injury

by Matt Naber | Jan 15, 2019

Winning the bareback riding world title for a third consecutive year came at a cost for Tim O’Connell that will have him out of competition for six months. 

During Round 10 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the Iowa cowboy posted an 87-point ride on J Bar J’s All Pink and went home with his third consecutive gold buckle, but the ride also saw him suffer a torn rotator cuff and torn labrum. 

O'Connell announced the injuries would keep him out until summer via Facebook.

“A lot happened after the whistle,” O’Connell told the PRCA. “I got flipped and turned and my shoulder yanked in the wrong direction. I didn’t think it was that bad, but I think I had injuries that gave it enough to take it the rest of the way.”  

In wrapping up his third consecutive gold buckle, O’Connell won $132,551 at the Finals and finished the season with $319,801. He also split the average title with Steven Dent, each of them finishing with 849.5 points on 10 head. It was O’Connell’s third consecutive Wrangler NFR average title.

After returning home from the Wrangler NFR, O’Connell, 27, had an X-ray and an MRI and the results sent to Dr. Tandy Freeman from Justin Sportsmedicine. 

“He didn’t give me an ultimatum, he said it has to be fixed,” O’Connell said. “He gave me a 10 percent chance or less that my shoulder would dislocate. This was all the week after the NFR.”

As of mid-January, O’Connell hopes to be back in the chutes in time for the Fourth of July run and is not discouraged by the setback. 

“I’m at peace with it,” O’Connell said. “It gives me time to be with my family, but I have no doubt in my mind that I can make the NFR in that time span. It will be challenging, but once they give me the green light I’ll do rehab and will face it like I’ve faced everything else in my career – head on. I’m not down and out, but I’m upset about missing rodeos like The American and (Rodeo) Houston. It’s upsetting, but I’m looking at the good side.”

O'Connell took to social media yesterday to update his fans about his injury and his plans for the 2019 season. 

O’Connell won’t begin his Cowboy Christmas run with a zero balance on his 2019 PRCA | RAM World Standings. He’s already won $8,363. 

Hypothetically, if the 2019 season is like the 2018 season, he’ll need to win about $65,000 in the final three months to qualify for the Wrangler NFR, a feat he accomplished last season.

On June 25, 2018, O’Connell had $76,895. In about the same amount of time O’Connell will have if he is to go by the Fourth of July run, he added more than $100,000 by the close of the 2018 regular season, finishing with $187,250 by the end of September. 

The 15th qualifier for the Finals got in with $77,497.

“Obviously, it’s going to be very challenging to have three months to make up a lot of ground,” O’Connell said. “But I feel confident in my abilities and just need Lady Luck on my side giving me great draws for those three months. I have a realistic chance to come back and make the NFR.”

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