Olympic judokas spar with favela kids

France's Olympic judo delegation spar with kids from Rio de Janeiro's sprawling Rocinha favela.

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - More than 100 children from an impoverished Rio favela sparred with France's Olympic judo delegation.

Flavio Canto is a 2004 Olympic Bronze medalist and Brazilian judoka.

"The idea is to change their life through the examples we have in sports, through the value of sports and the French delegation, the French athletes, they represent its best. An unforgettable day for sure," said Mr Canto.

In a favela with a history of violence between police and drug gangs, or armed battles between traffickers themselves, judo is an outlet that gives kids a sense of community.

Loic Pietri, a former world judo champion, "I hope to get a gold medal. There are lots of people who are very competitive and there are other favorites. It will be a serious competition, it will be difficult, it'll be a mind game."

The judo experts provided the youngsters with an opportunity to feel a connection to something bigger, with thousands of athletes now descending on Rio for the Olympics, which starts on Aug 5.