Professional rodeo in Australia is in the best of hands when you look at the talent, mindset and dedication to the sport from this year's Junior Australian and Pro Tour Champions.
The Australian Professional Rodeo Association's 2022 junior season was the first full season back after the disruption of COVID, with 175 rodeo events offering the youngsters the opportunity to compete, refine their skills and qualify for the pinnacle event, the Junior National Finals, held recently in Emerald.
"It was great to see the level of talent that's coming through our junior rodeo ranks," said Junior National Finals spokesman Shane Kenny.
"Bringing kids together from across Australia, seeing the mateship and their approach to competing at a national level was unreal."
This year, 60 athletes made the trip to Emerald, to compete in six championship events to take home a prestigious Australian Champion title, a prize haul and their very own Bob Berg buckle.
Here are the 2022 APRA's Junior Australian Champions:
For Townsville cowboy Rope McPhee, winning the All Around and individual championship event titles was something he'd always dreamed of and was a reward for the work he'd put in.
"Taking the title took a lot of hard work, a lot of time in the practice pen, plenty of good friends and good horses," Rope said.
"I've always wanted to win a Junior Championship title, but in the moments at Emerald I was just focused on taking it one round at a time, and not letting the pressure of the event get to me."
Thanks to the efforts of the APRA-affiliating committees who host events annually, junior competitors are not only given a safe opportunity to develop their rodeo skills, they're also mentored and supported professionally.
"With the level of professionalism within the APRA, junior competitors learn the right way from the get-go," Mr Kenny said.
"We work with them to understand that part of winning is being able to speak well and present themselves.
"Let's look at Ky Hamilton - not only has he exceeded expectations when it comes to success in the arena, he's also a great ambassador for junior rodeo in Australia."
Congratulations to each and every competitor, enjoy your achievements and thank you for the contribution you made to professional rodeo - the sport's future is bright!
For those interested in finding out more about junior rodeo competition and events, head to the website - www.prorodeo.com.au
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