Injuries are part of the ProRodeo game – which three-time PRCA World Champion Bareback Rider Tim O’Connell knows all too well.

O’Connell, who won consecutive world championships from 2016-18, is recovering from a tear in his left groin.

O’Connell said he initially suffered the groin injury in January of 2023 at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver.

“After Denver, I gutted it out throughout the year, but at the NFR it tore the rest of the way off, and I’m pretty sure that happened in Round 9,” said O’Connell, 32. “I had surgery (Jan. 4) in Philadelphia with Dr. (William C. Meyers), and the surgery was successful. Turns out I had a lot of bone fragments floating around there as well. So, they ended up cleaning out my pelvis and they took five or six pieces of bone that were floating around in there.”

O’Connell placed second in Round 9 at the 2023 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with his 86.5-point ride on Hi Lo Pro Rodeo’s Square Bale on Dec. 15 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. He also had an 86.5-point ride in Round 10 aboard Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Bill Fick Top Notch, but he didn’t place.

“I was sore after Round 9 and I was extremely sore the day of Round 10 (Dec. 16),” O’Connell said. “After watching the Finals back and analyzing things in Round 10 my left leg didn’t really work at all. I went to the Chase Hawks (Rough Stock Rodeo, Dec. 23 in Billings, Mont.) and I was still sore, and my left leg really didn’t work.

“I called (Dr.) Tandy (Freeman) on Christmas Eve and he talked to Dr. (William C.) Meyers, and I went and had an MRI and it showed it was the rest of the way off. I tough-guyed it through the (2023 season), but I really had to baby that leg through the year. I knew how to get it better, but I had to baby it.”

O’Connell, a 10-time Wrangler NFR qualifier (2014-23), finished ninth in last year’s PRCA | RAM World Standings with $214,891. He earned $55,564 at the NFR, placing in two rounds.

“The timetable to be completely (healthy) would be coming back the first week of April,” O’Connell said. “My timetable is to be at the last set of Houston (March 11), which would be about nine weeks and four days post-op. But I’m going to be smart with this thing as well because I’m not going to damage something because of my selfish goals.”

O’Connell, who has also won three NFR average titles from 2016-218, still has the passion to compete.

“I have just had compounding injuries over the last few years,” O’Connell said. “But I still love what I do and I’m very competitive at what I do.”

-courtesy of the PRCA-

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