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Avegalio twins win 2023 Jiu- Jitsu European Championship

Laina & Fata

Chandler, ARIZONA — During this holiday break, 12-year old twins Fata & Fa’aolaina Avegalio are enjoying some down me. Reminiscing about their trip to Ireland brings back fond memories that will last a lifetime. Although they’re accustomed to traveling domestically for jiu-jitsu tournaments, this was their first international trip.

Fata & Laina were born in Monterey, California to Fata & Repeka (Seva’aetasi Sao) Avegalio. They are the maternal grandchildren of Alama Seva’aetasi Sao & Ta’avale (Togia’i/Savusa Savai’i) Sao. Their paternal grandparents are Papali’i Failautusi Avegalio & Linda (Spear) Avegalio.

On December 3, the 2023 International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu European Championship took place in Dublin, Ireland. Laina & Fata are members of the competition team at Gracie Barra, Chandler. Under the leadership of Professor Paulo Piu, the team took 13 competitors who all had outstanding performances. Of that group, the gym took home 7 golds, 2 silver and one bronze medal. Fortunately for the twins, they both took gold.

For Laina, this was peculiarly special as this was her first international tle. The martial art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a passion for her. It continues to push her growth on & off the mat. There’s a saying that’s common in the jiu-jitsu world. There’s no losing in jiu-jitsu. You either win or you learn. During one of her speeches she gave during speech and debate night, she described jiu-jitsu as a, “physical and mental chess like art.” People see the wins but you also learn from the losses and peripheral battles. “I’ve had to fight girls a lot taller & bigger than me. I had to fight through injuries during a match. I had to overcome dealing with tournament losses.” The wins and lessons come with the constant commitment to improve. “I’ve developed a genuine relationship with my professors, coaches, teammates & their families. When we were in Dublin, we all supported each other & cheered each other on. We know the work we put in. It bonds us when we give blood, sweat and tears on the mat.”

Laina’s pursuance of her passion led to several accomplishments this year. Some of those achievements include 2023 IBJJF Intercontinental Champion, silver medalist at IBJJF PANS (kids world championship), 2023 COMPNET National Champion & 2023 IBJJF European Champion. One specific goal Laina had last year was to be ranked in the top 10 in IBJJF. She not only accomplished that, but she finished off the year as #1 in the world, in her bracket. She has until January 1, 2024 to keep that spot, then the brackets reset. Some short and long term goals Laina have are to become a champion on every continent that hosts IBJJF tournaments and to one day earn a black belt. Other interests that Laina have are playing piano, drawing, learning new languages & cultures, speech & debate & spending me with family & Liana

Fata’s path to becoming 2023 IBJJF European champion was not as linear. Plagued with substantial injuries during rugby training in January, he sat out of jiu jitsu and rugby the majority of the year. He had a 45% tear in his patella tendon & tear in his hamstring. 2023 was a year of healing as he rested and received treatment. As disappointing as it was to be sidelined, Fata started training again in the fall. Though he only competed in two tournaments this year, he dominated in both performances and won every match decisively. All of his wins were by submission and none of his competitors scored a single point against him. Winning the 2023 IBJJF European Championship was a real bonus for Fata. When given the green light to train, he committed. He understood that mindset & his experience earned him a spot to compete. It’s not ideal to enter a competition after a lengthy recovery me, but he had nothing to lose. With the support of Professor Piu and his teammates, they all helped him get ready. When Fata steps on the mat, he’s able to focus with intensity. He didn’t bring the baggage of the year with him. One goal he has is to continue to stay healthy and improve his skill set. He enjoys competing and traveling. Some of his other interests are playing rugby, the sciences, military history, engineering, playing the drums, and speech and debate.

Laina & Fata’s parents are proud of what their children have achieved in jiu-jitsu and in other endeavors. They guide and support them to be the best versions of themselves, in all areas of their lives. They understand that without the provisions from God, they would not be able to do what they do. They have numerous cousins & friends who they train with. They are blessed to have supportive parents & family, but they know they have to put in the work. Fata & Laina are surrounded by a large village of grandparents, uncles, aunts and other adult mentors who uplift them.

2024 looks to be another full year for the Avegalio twins and their parents. So far, there are some domestic tournaments coming up along with a possible international trip for a tournament in their professor’s home country of Brazil. They are looking forward to the opportunity to not only compete in other countries but also to learn about the history, culture, and the people. Equally as important, they are also looking forward to create more memories like the ones they made in Dublin.