Just when you think you're tough enough


Rafaela Silva wins Brazil’s first gold medal of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Brazilian judoka, who grew up in Rio’s ‘City of God’ community beat Sumiya Dorjsuren of Mongolia in the 57kg final

Rio de Janeiro native Rafael Silva, 24, has won the host nation’s first gold medal of the Rio 2016 Games today (8 August) beating Mongolia’s Sumiya Dorjsuren of Mongolia in the -57kg final. Silva scored waza-ari over Dorjsuren with a throw a little over a minute into the final and was able to hold on to that lead amid deafening cheering from the stands.


The Brazilian judoka was disqualified in the early rounds at London 2012, though bounced back to take gold at the world championships in 2013. Like that victory, this one was in front of a home crowd.

Born in the notorious City of God community in Rio de Janeiro, Rafaela had the strong support of the fans in the Carioca Arena 2, and especially from her family who were there to support her.

“It really helped me with momentum and the pressure against my opponents. The stadium was shaking, everybody was screaming and cheering me up every minute.”

Rafaela’s father, Luiz Carlos, declined to attend his daughter’s preliminary fights, citing nervousness. But he was there today for the semi-final and the final, sitting next to wife Zenilda and their judoka niece Ana Carolina.

“It’s not because it’s my daughter, but she deserves this a lot. She is a good person, humble,” Silva’s mother said excitedly. “She deserves this. She is a unique warrior. A warrior of gold.”

Dorjsuren’s silver medal was the first Olympic judo medal for a Mongolian woman, while London 2012 Olympic Games champion Kaori Matsumoto had to content herself with bronze this time after losing to Dorjsuren in the semi-final. Telma Monteiro claimed the other bronze medal.