One of the most intriguing questions I have for contestants that have won multiple world titles is if there is one gold buckle that stands out more than the others.
Yeah, it’s a tough question. What I’ve learned over time is that there are wonderful things about each, and it’s hard for the cowboys and cowgirls to pick one over any of the others. What the question reveals often is a wonderful tale of what had happened leading up to each season’s finale, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Such is the case with Bobby Mote, a four-time world champion bareback rider from Culver, Ore., who won gold buckles in 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
“They were all different,” Mote told me today. “The first one was about me making right from the year before. I had it won the year before, and I failed in the 10th round. It was about knowing that I could do it even when the chips were down.”
The second one came after a dry spell and learning to refocus. In fact, he dominated the season and had a big enough lead heading to the NFR that he held onto the No. 1 spot after the 10 days ended.
“In 2009, I was determined I was going to win,” Mote said. “Then 2010 was special, because I had tried to repeat before, but I gained a real appreciation for what it takes to win the world title.”
Both were special in another way – Mote overcame some serious ailments to collect gold at the end of those two seasons. The 2009 title came even though he spent four months competing with a serious neck injury; a year later, he began the season with neck surgery, then overcame a sports hernia to finish atop the standings.
Over the course of his career, Mote has proven he’s one of the greatest to have ever played the game. He’s also proven he’s one of the toughest.