Little Arizona delegation wins big in Rio

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Megaton, Mackenzie, Kristina Barlaan and Gustavo Dantas. Photo:

The four-man (two of them ladies) troop from the American state of Arizona that ventured into the Rio Open and International Master and Senior 2010 championships this past weekend made a mighty bang. The tiny delegation (in numbers and in size, as they are all featherweights) achieved a monstrous seven-medal tally and made a major contribution to their respective teams’ overall success.

While the male half of the outfit was represented by seasoned veterans Wellington “Megaton” Dias and Gustavo Dantas, president and vice-president of the Arizona State Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, respectively, competing in the International Master and Senior old-timers’ tournament, the female contingent featured two fresh-faced rising stars in the Rio Open adult competition.

Dias’s daughter Mackenzie Dern couldn’t have had a better competition debut as a purple belt. The 17-year-old, who was finally promoted after winning a second adult world title in her weight group and taking runner-up in the absolute at the 2010 World Championship, kicked off her fledgling purple belt career with gold medals in her weight and the open weight classes.

Now Kristina Barlaan, a fixture on the winners’ podium at all the major competitions across the United States, helped her team, Nova União, take second in the overall team contest, scoring valuable points with her gold and silver medals at weight and open weight in the blue belt division, respectively.

Gustavo Dantas and Wellington Dias came up spades too, with Gustavo taking gold in the senior 1 featherweight group and Megaton in the senior 2 featherweight and absolute weight groups. If Megaton winning the senior 2 division is little surprise, as it’s never any surprise when he places in the adult division he customarily enters, the achievement becomes all the greater when considering how the Gracie Humaitá team he represents managed to recover the International Master and Senior team title they lost to Gracie Barra last year, Wellington’s points playing an important part in their return to glory.

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