After overcoming a serious injury in the lower back, Lucas Pinheiro seeks first world title

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Lucas Pinheiro has won four gold medals so far this year. Nat Chittamai

A car accident nearly put an end at Lucas Pinheiro’s professional career. It was eight months of misery, suffering and also a lot of willpower to get back on the mats in order to be able to do what he loves the most: train Jiu-Jitsu. The accident happened in Dallas two days before the 2016 Pan. After going to a local hospital and being released, Lucas thought it was not something serious and didn’t worry about it. He stayed focused, competed in the Pan and was a runner-up for the year. However, a few days later, Lucas was still in a lot of pain, so he returned to the doctor to find out that, due to the pressure of the car wreck, he had dislocated one of the discs in his spine.

“This accident disturbed my life,” Lucas says. “It was several months without fighting IBJJF events… It was my first Pan in the black belt category. I was losing weight and very focused. After the accident, I went immediately to a hospital emergency room. As the doctors released me, I thought it was nothing serious. But when I got back, I realized that the pain was constant. I was walking and sleeping badly, feeling in pain all day. Then, I made a new appointment to find out what was really going on. The first doctor said that I needed to have surgery, which could definitely harm me as an athlete forever. I had never imagined that would happen in my life. For weeks, I cried every day, and I did not know what to do.”

The 23-year-old black-belt decided to seek the opinion of other experts and began a long, arduous treatment. There were months of orthopedic treatment, cryotherapy, ice baths, and lots of physical therapy. Eight months later, Lucas was back on the mats.

“I did several types of treatment,” he says. “It was very difficult, and I do not wish what I went through on anyone. But after all of this, thanks God, I am back doing what I love. I had to return gradually, and I believe I have now reached a high level of competition. But only I, and those who were by my side, know how much I suffered and how horrible everything I’ve been through was.”

Having overcome the accident, the athlete from Manaus resumed training at a high level. After being a runner-up as a brown-belt at the World Championship and a runner-up at two consecutives Pans at the black belt, he guarantees that he is ready to seek his first world title.

Lucas Pinheiro faced João Miyao at a Miami Open final. IBJJF

“My expectations are the same as the last two Pans when I reached the final,” he says. “Last year was my first year as a black-belt, and this year I reached the final again when I fought it against Bruno Malfacine. This year I have also faced several tough guys, such as Malfacine and João Miyao, and I have done pretty well in all the opens that I’ve participated in this season. I am very focused and confident. I know I will be a tough match for anyone who faces me, and I will be giving my best to earn this title.”

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