Rebeca Andrade from the favela to the Olympic silver

Rebeca Andrade from the favela to the Olympic silver

The Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade took a giant step this Thursday in a career marked by obstacles and injuries, by winning the silver medal in the general contest of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

At 22 years old, this native of Guarulhos (outskirts of Sao Paulo), of humble origins, secured for the first time a place on the podium of women’s gymnastics for Brazil. “I did my best and I am very proud,” Andrade celebrated at a press conference, underlining her good performances even above having reached the podium. “Regardless of gold, silver or bronze or if I had not won a medal, I had a great performance and I am grateful.”

Her achievement was so celebrated that even Simone Biles applauded her at the end of her routine and Nadia Comaneci herself congratulated her on social networks

Andrade was in the favorite position after the resignation of the American Simone Biles. And she still did not say her last word, given that in the next few days she will play the women’s jump finals, solo and beam in balance.

Such a position was unthinkable two years ago, when she underwent her third operation for a torn knee ligament.

But nothing that could discourage a young woman used to overcoming all setbacks since she entered a gym for the first time, at the age of 4, thanks to a social project of the Guarulhos mayor’s office.

Already on her first day she earned the nickname “Daianinha de Guarulhos”, an allusion to Daiane dos Santos, the Brazilian gymnast who achieved 9 gold medals in solo at world championships between 2003 and 2006 and who was her constant inspiration.

With a mother who worked as a domestic worker and was in charge of a household of eight children, Rebeca was forced to suspend her training “when money was tight.”

But her coaches organized to take her to the gym. At the age of 9, he went to train for a year in Curitiba (south) and a year later he signed for Flamengo de Rio de Janeiro.

– To Tokyo with a funk beat –

In 2012, at just 13 years old, she won the Brazil Artistic Gymnastics Trophy, beating legends such as Daniele Hypólito or Jade Barbosa, in her first championship as a professional.

“It was then that my name began to be better known,” he recalls.

Far from turning her back on her origins, Rebeca brings the references of a popular and marginalized Brazil to competitions. In qualifying for the Tokyo final, he did solo auditions to the funk tune “Baile de favela”, by MC Joao.

And in this Thursday’s test he chained JS Bach’s “Tocata y Fugue in D minor” with the popular Rio rhythm.

Born in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro in the 1980s and very popular at rave parties in those gigantic slums of houses piled high on mountains, funk was the music that accompanied Andrade in his decisive performance on the floor that he ended up deciding. his presence on the podium at the Ariake Gymnastic Center.

Andrade, 22, scored 15,300 on the jump, 14,666 on the uneven bars, 13,666 on the balance beam and finally 13,666 on the floor to total 57,298 points and take second place.

Lee, from the United States, won gold with a total of 57,433 points and Angelina Melnikova, from the delegation of the Russian Olympic Committee, took bronze with 57,199.

When she finishes her degree, Rebeca wants to dedicate herself to the “performing arts”.

“I think I have an artistic side and I will do well,” he said in 2016 in an interview with the digital medium Clickguarulhos.

In her international debut as an adult, in 2015, she achieved bronze in the World Cup stage held in Ljubljana, in asymmetrical parallels, although shortly after she suffered one of the worst experiences in the world of sport: injuries.

From the operating room to the court

In 2015, 2017 and 2019 her knee injuries forced her to undergo surgery.

“I grew a lot with all that. My maturation was very great, as a person and an athlete. It is not that I like having gone through those moments of injury, but it was essential to grow,” he said last year in a live of the Brazilian Confederation of Gymnastics.

The last surgery, in 2019, forced him to stop 8 months. But the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games due to the coronavirus pandemic gave him time to regain his level.

In 2016, after her first operation, she achieved gold in jumping at the Koper World Cup stage, before participating in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she finished 11th.

“I think I was tired, they were my first Olympic Games, besides competitions one after another, it is difficult,” she commented.

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