Brazil cheers, hopes, suffers as home team hunts glory

Sat Aug 6, 2016 8:40pm EDT
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By Jeb Blount

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil won its first medal of the Rio Olympics on Saturday, but its hard cheering fans also suffered deep disappointment as a top gold-medal hope was eliminated from the judo competition, left in tears on the mat with a dislocated elbow.

After months of criticism over construction delays, corruption, safety and polluted water, Brazilians were out in force to support their teams. They were buoyed by an opening ceremony on Friday that spoke directly to their complex and rich history and culture and eased local anxiety that the Games costing nearly $13 billion might founder.

Enthusiasm turned quickly to shock for many home team fans though. Brazil's Sara Menezes, a judo gold medalist in London in 2012, was rushed to hospital after being eliminated in a bruising match against Mongolian Urantsetseg Munkhbat to finish seventh.

Judo is one of Brazil's most successful Olympic sports. But Menezes was in such pain after having her arm yanked in the match that she was unable to get up to acknowledge her opponent's traditional bow.

Another Brazilian judo contender Felipe Kitadai, also cheered on by name by fans, was also eliminated in the men's 60kg Judo class by Uzbekistan's Diyorbek Urozboev. Kitadai finished seventh.

Still, Brazil's Felipe Wu made a good start toward the host country's goal of breaking into the top-10 total medal count for the first time. He won silver in the men's 10m air pistol event after being edged out for the gold by Xuan Vinh Hoang of Vietnam.

On a glorious, sun-drenched Rio de Janeiro day, Brazilians filled stadiums and streets and lined rowing and biking courses, shouting themselves hoarse alongside thousands of visitors from around the world.

"It's not like we don't know there are problems, if anybody knows that we Brazilians do," said Kele Fermino, a Rio real estate agent shortly after cheering on the bicycle road racers at the bottom of a steep descent in the Jardim Botanico neighborhood.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Shooting - Victory Ceremony - Men's 10m Air Pistol Victory Ceremony - Olympic Shooting Centre - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 06/08/2016. Felipe Wu (BRA) of Brazil shows his silver medal. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido