This may not be the biggest story of overcoming that you've read, and I can not say that with the next lines you will feel so inspired and motivated that your life will change. It would be an exaggeration to expect that from you from these few lines.
I could write many more lines, but today no one reads long articles on the internet, and I don't want to exaggerate the drama.
Ok, no more beating around the bush - last year (2014) was my worst year in this amateur sport that I love and turned into my profession, jiu-jitsu. In my output, I completely lost the courage to maintain a strict diet and cut the weight to my official category (Rooster weight, the lightest in Jiu Jitsu). This strongly contributed to the decision for me to avoid fighting in the adult category, even though I am already two age categories above it.
While I could not find the motivation to make myself make weight, possibly because I have been doing it for 10 years already, I could not forgive myself for that. The internal conflict of seeing the reality of my age and seeing myself move further and further away from my physical peak, despite having medaled in all of the international events in the previous season and after having won the gold medal in my last try at the traditional RIO OPEN was very difficult. Even with these good results, finally the shock of reality stared me in the eye and challenged me to take the foot off the accelerator.
The fear of losing has never, ever existed in me, but it would be better to stop before the losses become routine. Stopping would be a safe decision for my career, having managed to stay in the top three of the most important national and international championships of Jiu-Jitsu for over 10 years, having achieved gold medal at least once in all of the tournaments I've tried, except the PAN (3 silver), and in the black belt division. In theory it seems like the perfect time to stop, but an athlete's fuel does not come from medals hanging on the wall. What makes an athlete's blood boil and the butterflies in his stomach are the challenges ahead, not the ones in the past.
So there were strong moments of doubt and anguish, but in mid-May of 2014 I had to find out what was the cause of pain that I had been dealing with for many months or even years, because I'm not sure exactly when it started since pain in Jiu Jitsu is very common on a daily basis. Sometimes I struggle to remember that the pain is even there. But this time, the pain I felt in the back was paralyzing me.
With the proper tests in hand, I went to see a specialist that was highly recommended. When looking at the evidence he asked "Have you suffered a car accident?". Then you get an idea of what I felt, even though doctors exaggerate. The words from his mouth were "I advise you to not train Jiu-Jitsu anymore" or I would be putting myself at serious risk.
Imagine someone ripping your identity from you and telling you that you are no longer that person. That was my feeling after seeing the possibility of no longer being able to have Jiu-Jitsu in my life. I was completely aimless, but the pain was so strong that I had moments that I thought that the price to pay to not feel what I was feeling was stopping JJ. (So you imagine the level of pain).
Time passed, I was looking after me with everything that was in my power and the crisis passed. I was talking to friends who have gone through similar thing, many professionals and was seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. A student who became a great friend pointed me to another doctor and gave me a lot of support, sometimes looking like he wanted more for me to get better than myself. The other doctor was much more optimistic, but said I should only compete if as a "master" (my age division), there was no need to take the risk of fighting in the adult division. "You are not 20 anymore," he said.
At that time, the idea of fighting "master" (for those who do not know is the age category above 30 years), even if it was far away, seemed like a great deal for someone who thought they could not even train. After six months without putting on the kimono, when I finally put it back on, it was only to teach techniques in events I couldn't cancel. Gradually I was risking more, and doing super light workouts.
In December 2014, I began to slowly increase the pace. I found that at least for now, I still can not train daily as before. What has worked for me are two days of training and a rest, plus the weekend, ie, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Weekend rest also, at least from the kimono.
At the end of December I decided I felt good training and signed up for the European Championship of Jiu Jitsu. I was the champion in 2008 in the adult category. It was scheduled for the last weekend of January in Lisbon. This championship is the most prestigious in Europe and this year broke the record with 3500 registered athletes.
I signed up in my age category, and had 11 other athletes including Brazilians (the league is open), Italians, Spanish, Swedish and Finnish. My fights were not the most difficult of my life, but to have my arm raised in the end made my eyes watered slightly. Not because of the gold, but to know that my worst year is behind me. Hard times will always pass. How the rest of the year will go, I can not predict, but I look forward to it without haste! Welcome 2015.