August 28 - Brazil today celebrated a slice of history as Rafaela Silva became the first woman from that country to win a gold medal at the judo World Championships here, producing a stunning performance to beat American Marti Malloy in the under 57 kilogram category.
The 21-year-old from Rio de Janeiro fulfilled the expectations of the home crowd as she took less than a minute to beat Malloy, the London 2012 bronze medallist, in the final.
Silva threw Malloy with a ko-soto-gari which earned a waza-ari but the score was amended to ippon, leading to the home judoka to sink to her knees in celebration.
"When I looked at the table saw the referee said it was ippon, that moment was just happiness for me," said Silva.
At Paris in the last World Championships two years ago Silva had won the silver medal, losing to Japan's Aiko Sato in the final.
But she suffered disappointment at last year's Olympics when she was disqualified in the round of last 16 against Hungary's Hedvig Karakas following an illegal hit.
Silva was then the target of racist abuse on Twitter, leading Brazil's Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo to contact the police, although she did not want to take the case forward.
Other Twitter users questioned the amount of public money spent on preparing Silva for London 2012.
She was later forced to apologise by the Brazilian Judo Confederation (CBJ) after getting involved in a dialogue with her abusers, which included using foul and abusive language.
Silva promised that she would bounce back stronger for Rio 2016 - and this was a huge response.
Silva was born in Cidade de Deus, the favela used as the backdrop for the Oscar-nominated film, City of God.
She will now have to cope with the pressure of being one of Brazil's main hopes for a gold medal at Rio 2016.
"We have not even stopped to think that I am world champion yet," said Silva.
"i guess I'm making history in Brazilian judo.
"Now my target is to train hard and continue on [until Rio 2016].
"And if God wants me to win in my own house, then it so be it."
For 27-year-old Malloy this performance represented another step forward from London 2012 and meant she kept the promise she had made after winning the gold medal at the Miami Grand Prix last month that she would reach the final here.
"I can't wait to speak to my family, friends and teammates, everyone back home who I'm sure were going out of their minds hoping for me to win," she said.
Silva had earned a place in the final by dominating France's European champion Automne Pavia, the London 2012 bronze medallist, route to a victory by waza-ari while Malloy beat Germany's Miryam Roper with a sumi-gaeshi being awarded ippon.
Roper bounced back to claim a bronze, beating Pavia, while the other medal went to Japan's Anzu Yamamoto, who defeated Slovenia's Vlora Bedeti.
The men's events continued to be dominated by Japan as Shohei Ono won the under 73kg category.
The 21-year-old 2011 world junior champion defeated France's Ugo Legrand, the London 2012 bronze medallist, scoring a yuko from an uchi-mata after 90 seconds and sealed the win with a flashing hane-goshi earning ippon.
Ono was the third consecutive Japanese winner in the men's competition, following Naohisa Takato in the under 60kg division and Masashi Ebinuma in the under 66kg category.
Legrand, a bronze medallist in the last World Championships in Paris two years ago, claimed he was pleased with his performance after a tough day which included beating the top-ranked Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal of Mongolia in the semifinal.
"It was a horrible day for me, I had to take it one fight at a time, and every fight was a battle, a tactical battle and especially with the two Mongolians," said Legrand.
"At the end I'm really happy because it was my first world final and again I'm on the podium at a major event.
"It has been a difficult year after London 2012 but once again I showed I'm capable of being amongst the best players in the world."
The bronze medals went to the Netherlands' Dex Elmont, who beat Sainjargal, to add to the silver medals he had won at Tokyo 2010 and Paris 2011, and Belgium's Dirk Van Tichelt, who defeated Kazakhstan's Dastan Ykybayev.
It was the second World Championship bronze medal of his career, following Rotterdam in 2009.
To watch the latest action on JudoTV click here.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
August 2013: History made as Kosovo claim first major world title
August 2013: Mongolian ends Asami's bid for title hat-trick