Aaron crowned a champion
HE'S been sitting in the number one spot throughout the year, but on the weekend Clermont bull rider Aaron Kleier bucked the stiff competition from around the country and rode his way to victory to be named Australia's new Professional Bull Riding (PBR) champion.
Kleier, 20, said this week he was "pretty happy” with the result, as he now prepares to kick-off the 2019 PBR season in Melbourne this weekend.
A first-time winner of the prestigious title and $15,000 in prizemoney, Kleier was previously the 2017 PBR Australia Rookie of the Year.
However, he said the weekend's championship was the "biggest” title he had taken home, and the competition had been "tough”.
"It was pretty close between a few of us.”
In a battle for the Australian title, Kleier - dubbed 'Mr Consistency' due to having ridden more bulls than anyone else on the PBR Australia Tour this year - topped the Australian roster at the Grand Finals, finishing just behind Brazil's Rubens Barbosa and event winner Lucas Divino.
Eighteen of Australia's top riders, as well as four key internationals competed across the Grand Finals weekend, with eight riders ultimately progressing to the final and deciding round of competition.
Kleier went 46-for-80 in 2018 and finished the season with a solid 57.5 per cent ride percentage.
Kleier has been around bulls all his life - his parents also breed bulls for PBR competitions on their 22,000 hectare beef farm - and said he started competing in rodeos when he was 14 while attending Rodeo Club at high school.
The high-adrenaline contests, he said, are "exciting” and the crowds in Townsville for the weekend titles were thrilled to be part of the annual event which is held around the country.
"I like Townsville. It's always good up there and the crowd really gets into it,” he said.
Kleier, who is now 47th in the PBR world rankings, said he has been competing in about two bull riding events a month, as well as smaller events and practice sessions.
The final 2018 national rankings see Aaron Kleier placed at number one, followed by Cliff Richardson from the Hunter Valley, at number two, Fraser Babbington from Gisborne, New Zealand at number three and Cody Heffernan (also from the Hunter Valley) at number four.