By David Owen

Brazils Sarah Menezes celebrates after winning against Belgiums Charline Van Snick at London 2012June 11 - Brazilian judo has received an important boost with the signing of a new sponsorship deal with Petrobras, the Rio de Janeiro-based oil company.

Petrobras is expected to invest $20 million (£13 million/€15 million) over the next four years, mainly in the run-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Brazil is the eighth-most successful Olympic judo nation, winning three gold, three silver and 13 bronze medals since the sport made its debut in the Tokyo Games in 1964.

Four of these medals came at London 2012, consisting of three bronzes and Sarah Menezes' (pictured top) gold in the women's extra-lightweight (-48kg) category.

Hopes will be high that the South American country's judokas will fare even better next time around in their home Olympics.

Sarah Menezes poses at Brazilian Judo launchOlympic gold medallist Sarah Menezes (left) with the President of Petrobras, Maria das Graças Silva Foster, at the launch of the new sponsorship deal with Brazilian Judo

Menezes was among those on hand at Petrobras headquarters to witness the signing of the new deal.

"With the sponsorship of judo, we hope to further contribute to the success of the sport, encouraging participation of a larger group of athletes in national and international competitions, the emergence of new judokas and growth of the sport as a whole," Maria das Graças Silva Foster, the Petrobras President, said

The sponsorship will include the period of the judo world championships in Rio between August 26 and September 1, just ahead of this year's International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Buenos Aires at which the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic host-city will be chosen and a new IOC President will be elected.

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