Sarah Menezes made history by becoming the first Brazilian woman to win an Olympic judo gold medal when she triumphed in the under-48kg category here on Saturday.
The second-seeded Menezes dethroned reigning champion Alina Dumitru of Romania in the final.
Until four years ago in Beijing, Brazil had never even won a single women’s judo medal with Ketleyn Quadros breaking new ground by winning a bronze in the under-57kg division.
It has been a remarkable turn-around for Brazilian women’s judo which has made great strides during the last eight years under coach Rosicleia Campos, who took over following the Athens Games.
This year, for the first time, they qualified a competitor in all seven weight categories and now a first gold has been secured too.
Menezes, 23, had been far from her best in the early rounds, but she proved a dogged competitor.
All the way to the final she won each of her four bouts by the minimum yuko score.
Once in the title bout she took on Dumitru, who beat world number one Tomoko Fukumi of Japan in the semi-finals.
Menezes attacked from the start and several times had her opponent in trouble.
When she scored a yuko in the final minute she forced Dumitru to open up and, 10 seconds from the end, Menezes countered the Romanian with a shoulder throw (seoi-nage) for a waza-ari half point, which proved enough for gold.
Hers was not the most remarkable story of the under-48kg class, though, as Hungary’s Eva Csernoviczki came back from being strangled out cold in the quarter-finals to beat Fukumi for bronze.
Csernoviczki was rendered unconscious as she tried to resist a strangle in her quarter-final loss to Belgium’s Charline van Snick.
The referee immediately stopped the bout, awarding it to van Snick.
A medic was called but the Hungarian quickly recovered and was able to leave the mat without assistance.
Having lost in the quarter-final, Csernoviczki was given a second medal chance in the repechage, beating China’s Wu Shugen before stunning Fukumi with a foot sweep in a sudden death golden score period.
And she was joined on the podium by her last eight tormentor, van Snick, who beat Argentina’s Paula Pareto for her bronze medal -- judo being a sport where two bronze medals are awarded.
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