Judo: Silva wins first gold for host country Brazil

Mon Aug 8, 2016 7:56pm EDT
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By Chris Gallagher

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilians celebrated in the stands after Rafaela Silva won gold in women's judo at the Rio Games on Monday, claiming the first Olympic gold medal for the host country and capping a journey to the podium that began in one of the city's most notorious slums.

Silva raised her arms in triumph as she overcame top seed Sumiya Dorjsuren of Mongolia, following a pulsating semi-finals victory that went into extra time against London silver medallist Corina Caprioriu of Romania.

Gold for Silva marks a fairytale ascent to the Olympic podium from a childhood in Rio's Cidade de Deus favela, made famous in the film "City of God."

Following early years of trouble that saw her getting into fights in the neighbourhood, Silva found structure to her life through judo and went on to attend the Instituto Reacao, founded by Olympic bronze medallist Flavio Canto.

"The fans have always encouraged me, especially the kids from my own community in the City of God," Silva told reporters following her victory.

"If I can set an example for the kids in the City of God, if they can believe in their dreams and find their dreams through sport, then do it. I hope to be an example for them and I think I can be."

Silva's medal, in the -57kg weight class, was also Brazil's first in judo at Rio after strong contenders from its team were eliminated in the first two days of action.

Brazil is placing high hopes on its judo team to boost its medal haul in Rio after it took home four in the sport at the 2012 London Games.   Continued...

8/8/2016 REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach