Around the pyramid at CSU Long Beach, whisperings of, “Who’s that girl?” could be heard while Talita Nogueira of Ryan Gracie was competing against Penny Thomas in the medium heavy finals at the 2011 Worlds. When Nogueira clinched gold, there was a roar from the crowd, in support of the “underdog’s” amazing feat.
“That girl” was none other than 25-year-old brown belt Talita Nogueira from São Paulo, Brazil. This was the first time Nogueira had ever been to the Worlds and she was beyond excited. “I’m so happy and proud to be here,” she smiles, “I have a daughter, I have financial problems. It was not easy for me to get here. Winning is unbelievable!”
As for her Worlds experience against the famed Penny Thomas, Nogueira says, “I knew I had just ten minutes to prove how hard I’ve been training. It was the most important match of my life. I controlled the fight and I won. Penny is so tough, I had to stay very focused.”
Making this achievement all the more amazing is that Nogueira only started training Jiu-Jitsu a little over five years ago. “Everyone else here started training so many years ago,” she says, “I’ve come so far in such a short amount of time. It’s good to see I’m at their level.”
When she was 17 years old, Nogueira had her daughter. A year later, she was going through some tough times and she had some friends who were training Jiu-Jitsu. They asked her to join them, and she did. Since then, she’s never looked back.
“I’ve been training so hard,” she says, “I have a good professor (Pitta Junior), and a good family. I’ve been training hard to be the best. That’s my priority.” Along with her desire to be a world champion in Jiu-Jitsu, which she now is, she also wants to be a great mom, so she’s had her daughter training Jiu-Jitsu with her since she was three years old. “You can be a mother and a competitor at the same time,” she says.
Like the other world-class athletes, Nogueira says if you believe in yourself you can reach your dreams. And she should know because she just reached hers.