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Brazil's Olympic judo champ Silva wants to inspire others

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Brazilian Olympic judo champion Rafaela Silva hopes her success will be an inspiration for others after she rose from the City of God favela to win her country‘s first gold of the Games.

Silva told a news conference Wednesday she owes a lot to her sport and wants to give something back.

She grew up in the City of God and was introduced to judo at the age of seven, readily admitting Wednesday she may have taken a far worse turn if not for the sport.

"When I was five years old all I wanted to do was play in the streets, but it was very complicated because we couldn‘t stay in the streets," she told a news conference in reference to the violence in the area.

"Judo changed my life. I had no dream, no objective. The only dream I had was to have a bicycle and some cool clothes. Through judo I always give the maximum effort because I know that I can help my family."

Silva was criticised on social media when she finished only ninth at the London 2012 Games, but a year later became the first Brazilian world champion in judo at the home event in Rio and won again in her home town Monday.

"I leave the athletes village on the 13th and I intend to go back," she said.

"The small kids ask at my aunt‘s house when I‘m coming back. I want to go back to my community and be received the way I have been received on the streets, to inspire kids, not only to be athletes but to go to university and have dreams."

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