2013 Pan: Thursday’s girls and their golds taking over

Blue belt women at the 2013 Pan / Photo by Erin Herle

The female blue belt divisions unfolded today at the 2013 IBJJF Pan American Championship. The Bren Event Center had the blue and purple belt males as well, but the women are growing in numbers, taking over the mats one by one.

The divisions are getting larger each year with the blue belts really taking the lead. As the females continue to hold their grasp on the art of competition, the skill and tenacity increases. Today we saw many women represented from a variety of teams, their coaches supporting them and their goals accomplished.

Mylene Ramos Manalo in the guard / Photo by Erin Herle

Mylene Ramos Manalo competed in the featherweight division at her first Pan ams back from rehab. On October 21, 2011 she was hit by an oncoming car, breaking her femur in half and shifting it upward. The doctors told her it would be a year and a half before she could train again but by the six month mark, she was back on the mats. Her diligence to get back brought her to gold at NAGA a week ago even winning a superfight as well. While today wasn’t her day for gold, she is grateful to be back in competition mode and healthy.  She says, “Jiu-Jitsu is all mind and heart because when I competed last week I didn’t feel pain until I stepped off the mat.”

Carla Esparza in the white / Photo by Erin Herle

MMA fighter Carla Esparza placed second in the blue belt featherweight division, taking a break from the cage. This was her first Jiu-Jitsu tournament in the gi. Esparza is the Invicta FC strawweight champ but here, she says, “I definitely can’t rely on my speed and muscle as much when someone’s grabbing onto me, and I have to stop and think about my technique.”

Tara White, 27-year-old heavyweight blue belt conquered her division and the open weight. She had four fights in the open and she has been training for 11 months.

For more scenes of the female blue belt division, check out the showcase of photos below and for full results please click here.

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