As if the Judo at the Olympics wasn’t already surprising enough with Majlinda’s first gold medal win for Kosovo in their first ever Olympics, Brazil gets their first gold medal in this year’s Olympics thanks to Rafaela Silva in what seemed to have been a really remarkable Cinderella story for the young Brazilian athlete. Meanwhile, in the men’s division, Japan also finally managed to get a gold medal thanks to the hero of the division, Shohei Ono.
Womens 57 kg Highlights
If there is anything to talk about in today’s games, its of the 25-year-old Rafaela Silva. Rafaela Silva became the first Brazilian to ever win an Olympic gold medal, which makes things even better that it was in her home country of Brazil. Rafaela’s story is similar to most famous countrymen who were born in the famous “City of God” favela neighborhood in Rio De Janeiro, known for its notorious and ruthless violence and poverty where all hope seems lost, but Rafaela managed to show the world, just like how Majlinda Kelmendi did, whose story is somewhat similar to Rafaela’s, that growing up in harsh environments can only make you stronger and bring even more determination in their quest for gold, hence the famous expression “iron forges iron”. Of course, life still managed to throw curveballs at Rafaela as during the 2012 London Olympics, Rafael was disqualified against Hedvig Karakas for an illegal leg grab, which resulted in a titanic wave of hateful and discriminatory comments on social media that almost caused Rafaela to quit Judo because of how betrayed she felt at the hands of her fellow countrymen’s attacks.
Of course, after spending time talking with friends, family and even sports psychologists, she changed her mind. She studied hard and trained even harder to prepare herself for the 2016 Olympics in her home nation and city of Rio to prove everyone who ever insulted her that they were wrong, and she did just that. In her quest for gold, she defeated the very woman she lost to in 2012, Hedvig Karakas in a tough match that she managed to win by scoring a a waza-ari due to a swift, outside leg sweep. In the gold medal match she managed to secure victory over Mongolia’s Sumiya Dorjsuren, who stunned the Judo community with a swift victory over previous gold medalist, Kaori Matsumoto with a counter foot sweep as the Mongolian went for a big throw. The first bronze medal match for the women went to Telma Monteiro of Portugal, who managed to defeat France’s previous bronze medalist, Automne Pavai, in a repechage match by going for a sacrifice throw and immediately locking in an arm-bar after a beautiful transition which led Telma to Romania’s Caprioriu, and manage to get the win by yuko to get a bronze medal. The second bronze medal went to Kaori Matsumoto, who was Japan’s only gold medalist in the 2012 London Olympics and was upset by Mongolia’s Sumiya Dorjsuren in less than a minute by ippon, after the Mongolian captured her with a huge shoulder throw, she managed to best Lien Chen-Ling of Chinese Taipei to win the second bronze medal – showing that she is one of the best in the Judo world today.
Men’s 73 kg Highlights
The mens 73 kg division also had noticeable stories of disqualifications entering this tournament as Nick Delpopolo, who was the USA’s best athelete in this division, had made headlines of his own. During the 2012 London Olympics, he was disqualified after the IOC found that he had failed a drugs test due as Nick had eaten pot brownies. Nick, much like Rafaela, sought redemption in this tournament, and many will think he proved himself as a top competitor as Nick made it all the way to the quarterfinals before losing in a close match and being sent to the repechage round for a chance at getting bronze. Nick faced off against Miklos Ungvari of Hungary and lost in a tight match where both men were trying their best to get the ippon, but penalties is what ultimately cost Nick the match. Perhaps the most exciting moment came at the hands of the 24-year-old Shohei Ono, who dominated Belgian veteran Dirk van Tichelt with throw after throw before finally ending the match with ippon. He then went up against Rustam Orujov of Azerbaijan, who had managed to defeat Sagi Muki in the semi finals, a man most people were expecting to also make it all the way as opposed to Rustam. Rustam came out in the match very aggressive, but Ono took advantage of that aggression by attacking with an outside foot sweep and then immediately combining that attack with an inside foot sweep, winning Japan their first gold medal of this tournament.