“She is a humble black woman”: The personal improvement story of Rebeca Andrade, the Brazilian who won gold in women’s gymnastics

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The life of the Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade has all the ingredients for a movie. A black and favela girl who not only came to compete in the Olympics, but in Tokyo 2020 she won the first gold medal in history of women’s gymnastics in Brazil.

And if the gold in jumping was not enough, the 22-year-old athlete also returns home with the silver medal she achieved in the individual event.

Rosa, his mother, told one of the interviews you have conceded these days that your daughter began to climb into the bunk almost at the same time that she began to crawl. Already from his early years of age he pointed out manners.

One day, Rosa’s sister decided to take the little girl for a test at the gym where she worked in Sao Paulo, which had a social project for sports initiation. It all started there. Very soon, Rebecca was known as Daianinha‘, referring to Daiane dos Santos, a famous Brazilian gymnast who won nine medals at world championships between 2003 and 2006.

A medal with a lot of meaning

After Rebecca’s achievements in Japan, Daiane was unable to contain crying: “The first Olympic medal of artistic gymnastics is a black one and that is very strong. For a long time they said that blacks could not compete in some sports. It has a lot of meaning behind it. She is a woman of very humble origin, raised by a single mother, Doña Rosa – her father is alive, but not present in her life – endured all the injuries “.

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Rebecca’s path was not easy. His mother, a domestic worker, was alone with five children (today she has three more). The economic difficulties were enormous.

The athlete’s brothers were a fundamental support, especially the eldest, Emerson, who from the age of 15 had taken her to train every day. About two hours drive. Until he managed to buy a second-hand bicycle.

There was even a time when Rebecca had to stop training due to financial problems The family and her coaches took turns taking her to the gym.

At the age of 9, her coach – who is still with her – invited her to live in Curitiba, where the Gymnastics Center of Excellence is located. His mother accepted.

“People said I was crazy to let my daughter go, but I had the wisdom and an open mind to let her follow her dreams. I let her fly after a goal, also making it clear that, if it didn’t work, the doors of the house always they would be open to her. Today I see that I acted well listening to my heart “, bill.

During these years, for Rebeca her mother has been a fundamental support. “He had a lot of courage. Not only with me, with all my brothers. He always showed us all the possibilities and both sides of the coin (…) I learned what really matters at home, “he said before traveling to Tokyo.

At the age of 13 she was champion of Brazil and three years later she won the first medal in the World Cup in the uneven bars test, although where she really triumphed was in the jump, because there she got three golds. Since 2011, he has been part of the Flamengo youth team in Rio de Janeiro.

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His has been marked by various injuries that led to go under the knife three times and thinking about retiring.

This Monday she participated in the floor final where, despite obtaining fifth place, –the American Jade Carey took the gold– she did not leave anyone indifferent. The choice for this test was the song ‘Baile de Favela’, a ‘funk’ song by the musician MC Joâo that refers to the main dances of the capital of São Paulo, and mixed with the piece ‘Tocata y Fuga’ by Johann Sebastian Bach .

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