As an American might say, this is not Romulo Barral’s first rodeo. Today, Barral added yet another championship to his resume, winning the 2013 IBJJF European Championship in dominating fashion. If you browse Facebook and Twitter, you will see dozens of posts about Romulo’s win. But you might also see comments that read something like “It’s great to see Romulo back!” It is true that Romulo has had a history of injuries, like when he tore his knee in the World Championship finals in 2010, a year when he was set to face Roger Gracie in the open-weight finals for the third time. But it is also true that Romulo never really went anywhere. Never. In fact, less than a year after having reconstructive surgery on his knee, he was back in the World Championship finals in 2011. Still not fully recovered, Romulo took home the silver that year, but surged back to full force in 2012, winning his third black belt World Championship.
This got us to thinking, why do people think Romulo was ever “out?” When Romulo won the World Championship last year, the commentator exclaimed: “Rominho is BACK!” But, the truth is, Barral was always there. In fact, Romulo has been in the finals of his weight class at the World Championships every year he has competed since receiving his black belt. Additionally, Rominho has reached the open-weight black belt finals at the Worlds an impressive three times.
Romulo won the European Championships today. And it was a great victory by a truly humble and admired athlete. But it’s nothing new. In this day when there are new “superstars” seemingly every year, at every belt, it’s a good opportunity to sit back and appreciate the level of consistency displayed by Barral, at the most elite level, for the past 7 years.