Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 32
Athlete of the Week: Chris Hammell
BY ALLEN ACHTERBERG
What are the secrets to success as you bring home the gold medal and become the Black Belt World Champion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? "A positive attitude, supportive family, good food, and wine" explained the newly crowned world champion. Chris Hammell 40, a local and manager of Bien Nacido Vineyards took gold in the biggest event in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, an event held in Long Beach and featuring nine different brackets to compete in. Chris competed in the super heavy weight black belt division.
Starting late in life, at 33, he was just a beginner trying to stay in shape.
"I liked to watch UFC and decided to give Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a shot, and I fell in love with it," he said.
Within eight years, Hammell had earned his black belt and began to train for world-class event. While out checking on the grapes, he explained, he’ll sprint up the hills with a mask that restricts oxygen as if he were in higher elevations.
"It's funny watching him run around the vineyard like that," said his wife, Dayna.
Hammell trains vigorously at Paragon of Santa Maria alongside John Letters, co-owner of the gym.
"For some people, the sport is recreational, but Paragon offers a venue for those who want to train hard!" Hammell explained.
With the help his fellow trainees working alongside him, Hammell was ready for the event.
"My opponent scored 2 points on me right away but had an illegal grip which lost him those points, so I was prepared for my opponent to make his signature move and I was able to stop it each time" he explained.
Chris scored 10 points while keeping his opponent from scoring any.
"The whole family is super proud of him," his wife said.
Letters, who trained with Hammell, said the win was one of the coolest things he’d ever seen.
“Chris is the hardest-working guy inside and outside of the gym,” Letter said, “and I know how hard it is to have a family, have a job, and also find time to train. Earning a black belt is not common thing. either, but after all that to go on and defeat your opponents in such a high bracket and win such a big event is truly something special."