St Leonards talent wins European gold medal

Georgijs Rogolevs (centre) on the top step of the podium at the European Jiu Jitsu Championship 2018.
Georgijs Rogolevs (centre) on the top step of the podium at the European Jiu Jitsu Championship 2018.

A martial arts talent from St Leonards has fulfilled an eight-year obsession by winning a gold medal at the world’s biggest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament.

Georgijs Rogolevs was victorious in the ultra heavyweight division - three categories above his weight - at the European Jiu Jitsu Championship 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal.

He said: “I started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the end of 2009. After training for about half a year, I decided that I wanted to win the European Championship and I wanted to win it by the age of 30. This year was my last attempt.

“When I started training, one of the things that got me was the smaller guy can beat a much bigger opponent by using technique and leverage. I became obsessed with that idea and I wanted to prove it to myself.

“Eight years of hard work finally paid off and I came back with a gold medal. I was crying like a little child when I got the medal.”

Rogolevs won three fights to clinch the gold medal, two of them by submission and the other on points. He defeated a Brazilian opponent with an armbar two-and-a-half minutes into the final.

It was the 29-year-old’s third appearance at the European Championship. He was knocked out in the first round on his first attempt three years ago and lost in the quarter-finals a year later.

Rogolevs is no stranger to success having won the English Championship and British Championship in 2016. He then dedicated last year to preparing for the European event.

And prepare he certainly did. At the height of his training, ahead of the English Championship, he would train from 5-7am, do a day’s manual labour from 8am-5pm (while studying some competition footage) and go back in the gym from 6-10pm.

Even injuries haven’t slowed him down. Rogolevs has broken both elbows, his wrist, collarbone, arms and legs, and broke a finger a week before the European Championship, but never stopped training even when injured.

What’s more, Rogolevs didn’t speak any English when he arrived in the country from his native Latvia. He spent two months in Croydon before moving to Hastings in May 2009, and it was here that he first got into martial arts having previously done break dancing.

Rogolevs started out in the sport after reading about it in the Hastings Observer. Initially he was looking for a way of learning self-defence and improving self-confidence.

“I was thinking I was tough and a guy who was much smaller than me tied me in knots,” added Rogolevs, who spent the last two years training at the First Generation Gym in Eastbourne. “From that day I started going to the gym every day.”

With mission accomplished, Rogolevs has no further plans to compete and instead wants to pass his knowledge on to others. A former coach at The Fighting Tigers Gym, he is setting up a club called 1066 Grappling Guild, based at Stackz gym in Bexhill, and you can find out more at www.1066gg.co.uk

Rogolevs also wants to rebuild his family life, which he admits suffered due to his relentless obsession with becoming European champion. He has a 12-year-old daughter and two-year-old son, and says ‘I can’t sacrifice my family for it any more’.

For the last six months he has worked as a door supervisor in Eastbourne at weekends, and until then he was doing stock control and purchasing for GreenBlue Urban Ltd, a company now based in Bodiam which he says has been really supportive of him.

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