Rafaela Silva won her country’s first gold medal of the Olympics, and she is also the first female judoka from Brazil to win a gold medal in the Olympics. 24-year-old Silva won the 57-kg weight class yesterday.

At the London 2012 Olympics she was disqualified for an illegal leg grab in a fight against Hedvig Karakas of Hungary. Silva met Karakas again in the quarterfinal match in Rio and avenged her loss from last year.

Silva won her first match of the day against Miryam Roper of Germany in 46 seconds.

She beat South Korea’s Kim Jan-Di by waza-ari and in the semifinals she beat Corina Caprioriu from Romania in a golden score period. Neither fighter was able to score in regulation so they needed the extra three minutes to determine the winner.


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Silva is from one of the biggest slums in Brazil, Cidade de Deus, and her victory symbolizes hope for the Brazilians. Silva beat Sumiya Dorjsuren of Mongolia, the No. 1 fighter in the weight class, in the final match.

What was more impressive was that the top four from the London Olympics made their way to Rio and Silva beat two of the four returnees. Last year in London Japan’s Kaori Matsumoto won gold, Caprioriu silver and USA’s Marti Malloy and France’s Automne Pavia tied for bronze.

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