Refugee athlete Popole Misenga has won his first-round match in the men’s division of judo’s 90 kilogram division.
In a competitive contest against India’s Avtar Singh, Misenga managed to score one point with a throw that landed Singh on his side, but it was ultimately enough to win. In a crowd dotted with Brazilian flags, the cheers for Misenga’s victory were deafening.
Misenga, who hasn’t seen his family in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 15 years, settled in Brazil three years ago, after coming to compete in the world championships. He trains at the judo school run by renowned coach Geraldo Bernardes, the coach of Brazilian judoka Rafaela Silva, who won the country’s first gold of the Rio Olympics on Sunday.
In his next fight, Misenga faces top-seeded Donghan Gwak of South Korea.