Watch Guilherme Marchi ride in Goiania Saturday on Ridepass at 3:30 p.m. ET.
PUEBLO, Colo. – Every day of the 2018 PBR World Finals, Guilherme Marchi would be asked the same question.
“Are you sure you are retiring?”
Marchi would smile and explain that yes, 2018 is indeed the final season of his career.
Despite the smiles, it has still been extremely hard for Marchi to say goodbye to the sport he has loved since he was a little boy in Leme, Brazil, and to a 15-year profession that provided him with over $5.2 million and a World Championship.
Maybe, though, the hardest part has been actually admitting to fans that he is indeed retiring, as evidence by his emotional farewell speech at the 2018 PBR World Finals.
Saying goodbye to the faithful Marchi fans has been one of the toughest tasks for the fan favorite.
“I’ll miss my fans,” Marchi said just before the World Finals began in Las Vegas with tears beginning to well in his eyes. “But I know it is part of the sport. It is going to be hard to leave, you know, it is not easy.”
Marchi, though, has one final goodbye to make this weekend when he competes for the last time in Brazil.
The 2008 World Champion accepted an invitation to ride at the PBR Brazil Monster Energy event in Goiania on Friday and Saturday so that he could have one last sendoff, and say one last thank you to his Brazilian fans that may not have been able to come to Las Vegas for the 2018 PBR World Finals.
“Yes sir. I am going to ride in Goiania,” Marchi said. “This is going to be my last event. This is for my Brazilian fans that want to see me ride there.
“Oh, I have decided. This is it. I’m positive.”
Fans can watch Marchi’s final event exclusively on RidePass beginning Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Also competing in Goiania is 2018 PBR World Finals event winner Marco Eguchi, 2013 Rookie of the Year Joao Ricardo Vieira and PBR Brazil No. 1 rider Fernando Henrique Novais.
The winner of the event earns 120 world points to the 2019 world standings.
“He is not riding just for the country, but for his PBR fans in his home country,” said three-time World Champion Adriano Moraes. “Of course, rodeo loves him and rodeos love him down there, he already did his farewell to them in Barretos. Now it is for PBR. I am happy.”
Marchi, who has expressed an interest in doing broadcast work in Brazil, was also going to compete at the 2018 PBR Brazil Finals in December in Belo Horizonte, but that event has been postponed. PBR officials are working with local organizers to find a new date.
Therefore, this will be it for Marchi.
Marchi concluded his North American career by going 3-for-5 at the 2018 PBR World Finals. It was his 15th consecutive World Finals qualification, which ties him with 2004 World Champion Mike Lee for the most in PBR history.
Could he have pushed himself another year to break another PBR record?
“I feel great,” Marchi said. “I can ride two, three more years if I want to, but sometimes it’s kind of hard to because we have a lot of hope and doubts. And I’m kind of tired of traveling, to working out, to spending time (on the sport).
“With me, for being on top every year, it’s not easy. Fifteen years. I rode 635 bulls. It’s not easy. And that is only on the top (level). I have (rode) a lot of practice bulls and at Touring Pros and at a lot of events in Brazil before here.”
Marchi then leans back in his chair laughs.
“Too many bulls. But I’m proud for my career.”
The 36-year-old is the PBR’s all-time qualified rides leader with 635 at the elite level.
Marchi put forth one of the best seasons in PBR history 10 years ago. He rode a remarkable 72.55 percent of his bulls (74-for-102) in 2008, winning five events and posting 13 90-point rides on his way to the World Championship.
The idea of riding part-time and using his 10 guaranteed World Champion exemptions in 2019 also crossed his mind, but Marchi cannot see himself being invested only halfway in the sport.
If he were to ride, he would want to be chasing a World Championship.
“I think about that too, saying, ‘Oh, I can come back next year and pick some events,’ like pick 10 events just (to get to) the Finals, but I don’t think so,” he said.
Marchi said he is at peace retiring following back-to-back seasons in which he finished 23rd in the world standings.
It has become harder and harder for him to keep his body in good enough shape to contend against youthful superstars like Kaique Pacheco and Jose Vitor Leme.
“These last two years have been a lot,” Marchi said. “I broke my chest here, both knees, and it is no longer about me anymore. It’s about my family and my kids. And also I want to have a great life, you know. Nothing I can do anymore, 36 years old. It’s not the same as when we were 24, 25 years old.”
Marchi, though, is happy to walk away from the sport with essentially no regrets.
“In the beginning, if I pushed myself like I have these last five years, like this last month, I could have rode better and won more gold buckles.
“But, like I said, my dreams have come true.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2018 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.