SARASOTA - Brazilian jiu-jitsu will hold its world games in California later this week, and ABC 7 tracked down two Suncoast competitors who will be there to take part.
Having been a water polo player in college, Solange Reyner, a sports writer for the Herald Tribune, liked physical sports, so she boxed. While working in Lakeland, she went to a gym and met Josh Bacallao, who got her into jiu-jitsu. "He introduced me to jiu-jitsu. At first I didn't like it, the gear. I was like why are people wearing these pajamas? You kind of get addicted to it."
A former MMA fighter, Bacallao is a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and he is making his first trek to the world games this week. "This is my shot, my chance to do something big in jiu-jitsu, which I haven't been able to do up to this point."
There are over 100 competitors in Josh's division, but he has been preparing for this moment since he left MMA behind. "It's a really big deal to me, it really is. I am going there to win. It’s going to be tough, but I feel I am prepared."
When he goes to California, Solange, now his girlfriend, will be at his side. But she is not going just for the moral support, she will be competing as well. "Honestly, my boyfriend was going and I didn't really just want to be a spectator, so I said might as well."
"She is really a natural. She is definitely really good…better than I was when I started," says Josh.
So they will compete for themselves, but cheer for each other. "I'd like to win because it is a day before my birthday. It would be cool, but it is really more important for him for where he is in his progression in jiu-jitsu," says Solange.