Olympics-Judo-Brazil hopes dashed for early first Rio gold


Brazilians will have to wait a bit longer for their country to earn its first gold medal at their home Olympics after reigning judo champion Sarah Menezes suffered a shock defeat in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Menezes, who won gold in London four years ago, was considered a favourite to win the women’s -48kg category before a raucous crowd at the Carioca Arena 2 who chanted “Ole, ole, ole, Sarah, Sarah” and waved the Brazilian flag.

But Menezes, the world No. 4 in her weight class, struggled to gain traction against 17th-ranked Dayaris Mestre Alvarez of Cuba and lost on a single penalty in an otherwise scoreless match.

Brazil is placing high hopes on its judo team to boost its medal haul in Rio after it took home four medals in the sport at the London Games. The hosts, along with powerhouses France and Japan, are the only countries fielding a full team of 14 judokas.

Menezes and fellow Brazilian Felipe Kitadai still have the chance to reach the podium with a bronze medal later in the day through the repechage rounds. (Reporting by Chris Gallagher; editing by Ken Ferris)