Jiu Jitsu joy as fighters live the dream in Pan-Am championships
The TF Fitness Centre Kids' Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team attended their first 2017 competition last weekend, and they really couldn't have travelled much further, going to the Kids' Pan-American Championships in Los Angeles, California.
Six of the team made the journey, leaving Berwick in the early hours of Thursday morning for the Sunday competition, and not arriving back until Tuesday night.
While there, they spent time training at the Checkmat world headquarters and managed to meet the top man himself, Leo Vieira.
At the competition, the competitors were cheered on noisily back in Berwick by teammates, family and friends, who couldn’t make it over to compete.
The first competitor on the mats was young Cody Leighton in his first international competition. He fought well, but lost his fight on points, meaning a quarter final exit. While he didn’t gain a medal, he gained lots of experience and vowed to be back next year.
Next up was Duncan Anderson, who only had one opponent to fight, but Duncan became the first youngster from the TF Fitness Centre, and the first ever Scottish child, to win a gold medal at these championships when he submitted his opponent.
Matheos Ferreira was next up for the team, and he won his quarter-final fight after battling hard against a bigger opponent, which he will find a lot as he has just moved up a weight.
He then had his semi-final fight, and put on a great jiu-jitsu display with his opponent. It was a very back and forth affair, before late on, being forced to submit to a very tight hold. In a display of amazing sportsmanship, Matheos congratulated his opponent before the official referee decision. It was a well-earned bronze medal for Matheos.
Oliver Anderson was next, and with brother Duncan winning gold, Oliver was keen to repeat that success in the three-man division. He won his first fight, which put him in the final. The other two competitors then faced off to determine his opponent.
In the final, he didn’t face the person he had already beaten, and found himself up against it, but he never gave up, always trying his best. However, on this occasion his opponent was just one step ahead and took the win, meaning Oliver won a silver medal – a very hard-earned silver medal too.
Next up was the oldest Anderson brother, Rory, who was in a division of eight competitors. This was Rory’s second time competing at the event, following a bronze medal the year before, and he was hoping to go one better.
He won his quarter final fight with a great display of jiu-jitsu, but in a similar situation to Matheos, was just edged out by his opponent in a very tight contest, meaning he earned a bronze medal for his efforts. No doubt he will be back looking for gold next time.
The final competitor, fighting at around 2.15am British time on Monday, and still cheered on by some hardy souls in Berwick, was Jevon Leighton.
Jevon made short work of his first opponent, finishing him with a triangle choke in under a minute, which put him in the final.
Jevon’s final opponent looked good in his first fight, and after an early scramble in the final, managed to get Jevon’s back. Jevon escaped the choke hold, but was caught in a ‘bow and arrow’ choke, and before he had a chance to tap out, he passed out from the choke.
He was quickly brought round by medics, and by the time his medal ceremony came around he had a big smile back on his face and a silver medal round his neck. Jevon showed pure heart and toughness, although Mum did encourage him to tap out in future.
Coach Thiago Ferreira said afterwards: “I am so very proud of all the kids, they all fought like warriors. This project started four years ago and from nothing, we now have five medallists from a small town at the biggest kids’ competition in the world.”
He added: “Our preparation for the 2018 championships starts now. We will keep training hard, and after speaking to my coach Marco Canha, he has encouraged the kids to go to London to train if they can, as well as in Berwick.
“The American kids are very strong wrestlers and I think we need to add some wrestling training into our BJJ training, and I will be looking to make that happen. I know some people who can help us.”
Thiago concluded: “The support we have from kids, parents and friends is just amazing. We are from a small town, not many people know of our sport, but we get amazing results both in national and international competitions. For that, we are very proud.”