STANSTEAD, QC — An 18-year-old man from the border community of Stanstead is headed to Oklahoma later this month to compete at a championship bull riding event.
Mirko Martineau has qualified for the International Finals Rodeo (IFR), the championship event of the International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA).
The IPRA is the second-largest American rodeo organization, with 2,400 members in Canada and the United States.
Held every January in Oklahoma City, only 15 competitors from each of the seven rodeo disciplines qualify.
Growing up on the border, Martineau played basketball and baseball in the United States. An accomplished athlete, he also played football, hockey, lacrosse, and golf.
“I had a lot of fun and good memories playing those sports, but I felt like there was something missing,” Martineau said.
He was introduced to bull riding after seeing some videos on YouTube, and although hooked right away, it took him three years to convince his parents to let him give it a try.
Martineau started riding bulls in 2017, at the age of fifteen. It didn’t take him long to make a name for himself on the competitive level.
In 2018 he finished 11th in the IPRA Canada standings and in 2019 was 2nd at the National All-Region Finals in Lexington, Kentucky.
He’s even appeared on a TV series called “Tatoué Rodeo,” which aired November and December of 2019.
“With rodeo the thing I like the most is the family feel to it,” Martineau said. “Everyone is there to do their best and help you to be your best. In rodeo, there isn’t really a competition between contestants, it’s more of a competition between you and the animal you are partnered with. The guys that are supposed to be competing against you are going be the ones cheering you on the most. They want to see you succeed as much as they want to succeed themselves.”
As Martineau heads down to Oklahoma to compete, he’ll have friends and family cheering him on from both sides of the border.
The event kicks off January 17.