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Rafaela Silva grabs first Olympic gold medal for Brazil

9 Aug 2016 00:05

   IJF Media Team / International Judo Federation
20160808_Rio2016_IJF_57_SILVA, Rafaela (BRA) (6)

Rafaela Silva is not new, she was World Champion 2013 in Rio, but today he was reborn. Rafaela Silva ironed most of the pain the Brazilian judo team had suffered so far this week. Silva gave the team the ultimate inspiration to proceed the medal hunger because judo it the frontrunner of Brazilian sport. Not for nothing Judo delivered the host nation the first Olympic gold of the Games so far.

The girl from the favela, from the city of God, did it again, after 2013 she hadn’t win a huge medal at world level, despite two Grand Prix victories, but it wasn’t important. What was lost in London with a ninth place, started at August 28 2013 with the world title which changed her life. It gave the opportunity to the team to get more money after the Brazilians won gold via Sarah Menezes in 2012, and the team totally followed the success with a new world title for Mayra Aguiar in 2014. Since then everything was focused at this week and it all depended on one gold medal. With Mayra Aguiar still to come there are many more chances for judo. With Mariana Silva, Maria Portela and Maria Suelen Altheman the women’s team have more outsiders for a medal. Silva started this successful journey, where perhaps on Tuesday with Victor Penalber fighting U81kg the men can benefit of the medal flow.

Back to the category U57kg where Kaori Matsumoto (JPN) and Sumiya Dorjsuren (MGL) were the top favourites for today’s gold. Silva wasn’t even seeded and overcame the seeded Kim Jan-Di (KOR) in her first match. The crowd was loose and chanted “Rafa” and waved the green and yellow Brazilian flags.

Meanwhile Dorjsuren and Matsumoto qualified ‘on schedule’  for the semi finals where Dorjsuren surprised the 2012 Olympic champion with straight ippon after 25 seconds.

Silva had to fight Caprioriu of Romania after a victory over Hedvig Karakas of Hungary. Silva deserved the victory although it was a tough match with chances for both. In the final Silva took the lead quickly after a minute but Dorjsuren kept dangerous. The question is how Silva scored with her elbow that perhaps helped to pin the leg of Dorjsuren, at least not a leg grab with the hands. No one will talk about the match in the future, but about the gold medal for the people.

Silva, who is from Brazil's largest favela and trained at a judo dojo founded by former Olympic bronze medalist Flavio Canto, was in top form for much of the day. “Everybody here knows Rafaela's history,” said Eduardo Colli, a Brazilian fan watching the final in the stands. “This is more than just a medal, it's a victory for poor people. It's hope for all of them.”

The women's bronze medals went to Kaori Matsumoto of Japan, the defending Olympic champion her friend from Portugal Telma Monteiro who finally achieved to cash in that medal that was missing. 

Related judoka and events

Related Judo Photos

  • Rafaela Silva (BRA) - 2016 Olympic Games day 3 Judo U73kg & U57kg (2016, BRA) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Rafaela Silva (BRA) - 2016 Olympic Games day 3 Judo U73kg & U57kg (2016, BRA) - © JudoHeroes
  • Rafaela Silva (BRA),  PERSEVERANCE (IJF) - Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro (2016, BRA) - © Gabi Juan, Hajime Judo

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