Rafaela Silva won Olympic gold but many afro-brasileiras in the Games have won medals and championships in recent years – Meet 15 of them!



Note from BW of Brazil: Of course, as was expected, the United States and its top-ranked athletes have once again claimed most of the glory and the most medals of all competing countries. With less than a week to go before the ending of the Games that were hosted in Brazil for the first time, a number of Afro-Brazilian women deserve recognition for their participation and performances, even not managing to bring home a medal. As we have shown throughout the existence of this blog, Brazil mounts many obstacles to impede the progress of its black population and sports also presents its share of these obstacles, that is if one doesn’t want to play futebol. By simply battling to represent their country at home, many black women proved that the only things they lack to becoming successful are opportunity and support. Some of the women below were featured in a previous article that introduced them to our audience. Below, in an article by Juliana Gonçalves, see some of the accomplishments of the women that led them to representing Brazil in the 2016 Games in Rio. 

1 rafa
Rafaela Silva displays gold medal in judo – Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga (EFE)

“Fight Like a black woman”: 15 athletes to meet and celebrate

With or without medals, black women stand out in the 2016 Olympics by winning historical process exclusionary

By Juliana Gonçalves

Last Tuesday (9), after the victory of the judo artist Rafaela Silva, social networks were taken over by testimonies of black women celebrating the victory of the 24 year old.

The athlete, who is black, poor, a lesbian and was born in the Rio community Cidade de Deus, suffered harsh racist attacks in 2012, because of her defeat at the London Olympics.

During the press conference after winning Brazil’s first gold medal, she spoke out: “I can be an example for the children of the community because, only for you being black, you’re already frowned upon in the street.”

In the country that has forged its identity in the myth of racial democracy, talking about racism and ways to overcome it is still no easy task. In sports, for example, many athletes avoid the subject not to attract the antipathy of the public (1).

“Sport is already a place that society does not consider for women, except modalities viewed as feminine, such as gymnastics. And for black women, such access is further restricted by a number of social factors. The question is not talent, but the unfavorable conditions in order that great talents can happen,” said the black activist architect Joice Berth.

At different times, other athletes have positioned themselves, such as the swimmer Etiene Medeiros in an interview with Carta Capital last year. “Many people say that [racism] does not exist, but of course it weighs in. Swimming is an expensive sport, and to practice it, you must have access to places where the black population has difficulty reaching.”

The middle blocker of the national volleyball team and two-time Olympic champion, Fabiana Claudino, was the first to carry the torch to open the Games in May of this year.

Women’s volleyball captain Fabiana Claudino carries Olympic torch as former President Dilma Rousseff looks on

“I feel particularly honored to be black and have an opportunity to show the world that we are there, being part of the history and constructing something bigger. To show everyone that we, black people, are capable, but sometimes lack in opportunities,” she said at the time.

The 2016 Olympic Games have the highest percentage of women athletes in history so far: more than 45%. But the negras (black women) are not the majority and are absent in various categories, such as canoeing, horseback riding, tennis and sailing.

As occupying space is ensuring representation for a significant portion of the population, Brasil de Fato (website) listed some of the black women of the Olympic Games that, with or without a medal, won and survived despite the racism and sexism.

Track and Field

2 - ros

Rosângela Santos – sprinter has won several medals, was gold at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara in 2011.

3 - kau

Kauzia Venâncio – the high-performance sprinter in the 100 and 200 meter races is participating in her first Olympics.


4 - Loy

Lohaynny Vicente – 20-year-old, from Rio de Janeiro. Last year, she won the silver medal at the Toronto Pan American Games alongside her sister.


5 - adria

Adriana Araújo – in his debut during the 2012 London Olympics, she was the first Brazilian woman to win an Olympic fight and won the bronze medal.


ana beatriz

Ana Beatriz Bulcão – was the first Brazilian women to be among the world’s six best in the world ranking of 2012/2013.

Artistic Gymnastics

7 - reb

Rebecca Andrade – in 2012, at only 13 years of age, and in her first tournament as a professional, Rebecca became champion of the Troféu Brasil de Ginástica Artística (Brazil Trophy of Artistic Gymnastics).


Lorrane Oliveira – was a gold medalist on the uneven bars and on the ground during the Campeonato Brasileiro de Ginástica Artística 2015 (2015 Brazilian Championship of Artistic Gymnastics.


9 - Érika

Érika Miranda – competes in the lightweight category. In the 2007 and 2011 Pan American Games, she won the silver medal of the sport. In the 2015 edition she obtained the gold medal.

10 - Maria

Maria Suelen Altheman – Middle heavyweight. In 2011, at the 2011 Pan American Games, she won the bronze medal. She was twice vice world champion, in 2013 Rio de Janeiro and 2014 Cheliabinsk.


11 - ros

Rosane dos Reis – was a gold medalist in the South American Championships of 2015 and 2016. With the results, she went from 39th to 16th place in world ranking.

Olympic wrestling

12 - aline

Aline Ferreira – is among the top five in the world in the sport. She was the first to win a medal in the history of Brazilian Wrestling at the World Championships in 2014.

13 - joice

Joice Silva – was one of the country’s representatives in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. During the Pan American Games held in Toronto, Canada, the fighter won the gold medal in the 58kg. category.

14 - gilda

Gilda Maria de Oliveira – was champion in the Campeonato Brasileiro 2015 (2015 Brazilian Championship), and came in 5th place in the 2015 Pan-American.


15 - eti

Etiene Medeiros – is world record holder and first Brazilian woman to be a medalist at the world junior competition in short and long pools. She was also the first Brazilian woman to win gold in swimming at the Pan American Games.


16 - ane

Ane Marcelle dos Santos – no Brazilian has come as far in the Olympic archery tournament as Ane Marcelle dos Santos. She was assured of a second round appearance and is among the 16 best in the world in the individual event.

Source: Brasil de Fato


  1. Of course the best example of this has been and continues to be “O Rei” (the king) of futebol, Pelé, who continues to embarrass and infuriate activists due to his soft stance on racism in not only futebol, but Brazilian society as a whole. Current superstar Neymar has also been called out for his silence on the issue. Considering the case involving black gymnast Ângelo Assumpção, who was basically given a gag order not to speak on the racist incident involving his teammate Arthur Nory Mariano, one has to wonder if these athletes have been advised or coerced not to speak on controversial issues.
About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. So is Rafaela Silva the first black female who gold at the Olympics? P.S. I bet most of these black women are married to white men!

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