Judoka Rafaela Silva thrills home fans by claiming Brazil’s first gold of Games | OLIMPÍADAS RIO 2016 Rafaela Silva do Judô É MEDALHA DE OURO

  • 8 năm trước
Judoka Rafaela Silva thrills home fans by claiming Brazil’s first gold of Games

As the clock ticked down, ever so slowly, on Brazil’s first gold medal of the Olympics, the crowd in the tiny Carioca Arena 2 seemed about to explode. Rafaela Silva, the country’s beloved judo star, stood poised to win the 57kg women’s final against Mongolia’s Dorjsurengiin Sumiya, ahead 10-0 and yet time kept stopping for officials calls. Everybody in the stands stood, many waved Brazilian flags. They sang, They chanted. Nearly three days was a long time to wait for a gold when the Olympics is on your soil.

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Finally the clock started to run down again: three … two … one. Then came the gong ending the match and a great roar filled the arena. Fans jumped up and down, Brazil flags flapped and for a moment, Silva did not seem to know what to do. Should she jump? Should she run around? Should she cry? Eventually she did the traditional bow to her vanquished opponent and ran into the embrace of her coach before bursting into tears.

“Raaa-faaeee-lllllllla,” sang the crowd as the fans surged to the railings of the two-tiered stadium to get a better look. Olympic volunteers tasked with the job of keeping the aisles clear seemed helpless to stop the fans. In many cases the volunteers stood and watched themselves.

Silva is from Rio’s famous Cidade de Deus (City of God), a long neglected Rio favela. As a black woman from such a disadvantaged community, her victory was a powerfully symbolic moment for the country. It was also an impressive comeback for the 24-year-old who suffered racial abuse after she was disqualified at London 2012 despite being tipped for a medal.

“I insisted judo is my life [after 2012],” she said in a press conference on Monday. “People told me: ‘The place for you is as a monkey in a cage,’ but my place is in sports, in judo.”

When she was a child, Silva’s father enrolled her in a judo club to get her away from the drugs and violence that ruined many young lives in the City of God, which was the subject of a globally acclaimed film directed by Fernando Meirelles – also one of the creative directors of the Olympic opening ceremony.

The community came into being in the 1960s after the government cleared several favelas near the upmarket tourist resorts of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. It is supposed to have been “pacified” by police in recent years, but the gangs remain a powerful influence and – as in other favelas – neither the drugs nor the violence, nor the government neglect have ever completely gone away.

“She is from only about 10km from here, its amazing, everybody knows her story,” said Patrick Gonçalves, an Olympic volunteer who had come to the arena just to watch Silva. “Her story shows she has traversed life. The emotion here is everybody’s.

“A lot of girls her age will now be able to say: ‘I have a chance,’” Gonçalves continued as he watched Silva holding her medal aloft for the crowd to see. “They can say: ‘I can do something good, look at her, she has a gold medal.’ She could be on the street right now. She could be doing something bad, but instead she is an Olympic champion.”

After Olympic officials gave Silva her gold, the Brazilian national anthem played and the crowd began to sing along. Silva watched her country’s flag rise to the top for the first time these games and she began to weep. In the stands, many of the fans were weeping too.

“If anyone in Brazil wins a gold it is great, but because of her story that makes this better,” Gonçalves said.

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