With more than 1,900 athletes signed up, there are countless stories to be told in one championship the size of the European Open.
Coming up, three stories that caught the Blog’s attention.
First, blue belt Hélio de Melo came down from João Pessoa, the capital of the Brazilian state of Paraíba, to compete and pay a tribute.
With him in his baggage he carried a photo of a training partner and a nickname: Mocequinho.
With a bronze medal dangling from his neck, Hélio tells his friend’s tragic story: “Everything was in place for him to come and compete, but he was murdered in João Pessoa on the 25th.”
At the moment his photo was taken on the winners’ podium, extending his shirt to clearly display the image of Rufino Gomes Neto, Hélio is accompanied by other members of team CheckMat, among them black belt Alan “Finfou” Nascimento.
Besides him losing a friend, Hélio states that Jiu-Jitsu lost a talent: “He was the 2010 No-Gi champion of Brazil.”
The star of the second story is a team from Santa Catarina, which provided a good example of dedication to Jiu-Jitsu.
Led by black belt Ronilson Silva, the team composed of white belt Catherine Perret, blue Luiz Pichette, purple Patrick Rampanelli, and brown Adnan de Campos started planning its trip to Lisbon in November of 2010.
“It was a battle getting sponsorship in the towns where we have academies, in western Santa Catarina, and we even took out a loan from a bank so we could cover the costs of the trip.When departure time came they encountered even more difficulties.
“We drove ten hours to Florianópolis to get the plane to São Paulo and then to Lisbon, In all, the trip took twenty-nine hours,” recounts Ronilson.
To wrap up with the third tale, a royal story.
Jiu-Jitsu is a smashing huge hit in the United Arab Emirates, and this success produced an unprecedented occurrence at the European Open 2011, the presence of a member of the royal family from one of the emirates that comprises the country.
Sheikh Tariq bin Faisal, from the emirate of Sharjah, competed in the blue belt senior 1 division.
The emirate of Sharjah is the third most important of the UAE, behind Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
After winning his first match, the noble competitor was unable to make it past the semifinal and celebrated winning the bronze medal.
Over the last two days of the European Open 2011, more stories will unfold.