Australian bull rider severely injured at college rodeo

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) A bull rider from Australia suffered life-threatening injuries when a bull threw him and stepped on his chest at the College National Finals Rodeo in Wyoming, his coach said Friday.

Bradie Gray, a junior from Hallsville, Australia, was in critical condition Friday but improving, according to a spokeswoman at Wyoming Medical Center.

Gray suffered broken ribs, a bruised aorta and collapsed lungs Thursday night at the Casper Events Center, Odessa College coach C.J. Aragon told the Casper Star-Tribune (bit.ly/2sH0e5A).

Gray had no pulse when he arrived at the Wyoming Medical Center where he was placed in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator, Aragon said.

Gray was bucked off Frontier Rodeo's Levi the Boss and the bull stepped on his chest. He was able to stand up and was pulled into a bucking chute where he was put on a backboard and taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Gray, a junior at the college in Odessa, Texas, told the Star-Tribune on Tuesday that he was coming off his fifth serious injury of his college rodeo career. He suffered a broken back as a freshman, twice broke his jaw, suffered a torn groin and earlier this year broke a collarbone. All the injuries occurred from bull riding.

He also spoke about his decision to come to the United States to compete.

''It's what I love,'' he said. ''I've been bred to do it, so we're here to do it.''

Gray told the Odessa American that his family planned to travel to Wyoming to watch the competition.

Gray said he had ridden just one practice bull in preparation for the College National Finals Rodeo as he recovered from his broken collarbone, which required surgery about six weeks ago.

''I try to ignore it all and just have fun,'' he told the Star-Tribune. ''That's what you need to do.''

Gray said he has been riding bulls and steers since he was 5 years old.

He did not record a score in any of the three go-rounds during the finals. He was given a re-ride option on the one bull he covered. He took the re-ride and was bucked. He was on the bull for 2.96 seconds.

Gray entered the finals as the 152nd-ranked bull rider in the world, according to Professional Bull Riders. He was named the PBR Australia rookie of the year in 2016.

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

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