The incredible story of Rayssa Leal: she is 13 years old, goes to elementary school and is a candidate for the Olympic gold in Tokyo

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The incredible story of Rayssa Leal: she is 13 years old, goes to elementary school and is a candidate for the Olympic gold in Tokyo

There are World Cups of Soccer, Athletics and most of the major sports disciplines. There are the Pan American, European, South American Games. There are qualifying events for the highest appointments, but they are the Olympic Games the peak event, the one that every athlete wants to go through sometime.

There the most outstanding stories occur, there amateurism is equated with professionalism and there they coincide, for example, super champions like Novak Djokovic, who aims in Tokyo 2020 to win the Golden Slam (the four Grand Slams and the Olympic gold), something that no tennis player has achieved in history, and Rayssa Loyal, an athlete of just 13 years old who is the youngest Brazilian in the Olympic history of that country and of this edition of the Games together with the also British skater of Japanese descent Sky Brown.

The teenager, born on January 4, 2008 in Empress, Brazilian municipality of the state of Maranhão, got its pass to the maximum sporting event on June 6, when took third place in the 2021 Skateboarding World Championships held in Rome, Italy. The Brazilian’s 13.47 points were only surpassed by the Japanese Aori Nishimura and Momiji Nishiya, candidates to fight for the medals at Tokyo 2020.

Likewise, Leal was better placed than her compatriots Pamela Rosas and Leticia Bufoni, also considered among the best on the planet and favorites to get on the podium in Japan.

Brazilian Rayssa Leal is 13 years old and is a gold candidate at Tokyo 2020 (II).

Brazilians ranked for skateboarding and surfing in Tokyo are among the top ten in the world rankings, some lead the ranking as Gabriel Medina, and there is even hope that Pamela Rosa, Leticia Bufoni and Rayssa Leal will achieve an unprecedented and historic triple Olympic podium for Brazil in the women’s street.

New sports: a guide to getting to know skateboarding

The skateboarding will make the leap to the forefront of world sport in Tokyo, after remaining for decades as a practice underground and considered by many a lifestyle more than a sports discipline.

With minimal equipment – a board on wheels – the skaters perform improbable maneuvers in terms of technical complexity and risk to their physical integrity, in what promises to be one of the most colorful competitions of the Games.

Its spectacular nature, its urban character and its appeal to the youngest have been the main reasons for its inclusion in the Tokyo Olympic program, and for it to also be part of the following Games to be held in Paris in 2024.

From its origins to the current competition system, through medal favorites, this guide includes everything there is to know about this new Olympic sport:

origins

The birth of skateboarding It is usually dated to the 1950s on the west coast of the United States, when surfers in the area decided to create a terrestrial version of their boards to ride waves.

Although due to its origins of “do it yourself” it is not clear its inventor (or inventors), the first creators and sellers of skateboards are documented in California, where skateboarding emerged as an urban culture and began to become popular through specialized magazines.

Linked to music and fashion and with an always irreverent spirit, skateboarding began to generate international championships in the 80s, and already in the XXI century it was included under the umbrella of the international federation of different categories of skating World Skate.

Stage

The olympic competition It will be held at the Ariake Urban Sports Park. Located on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay and overlooking the skyline of the metropolis, it is a huge concrete track divided into two spaces for the two events of the sport.

The first is the park, a closed circuit similar to an empty pool and with steep curvilinear slopes. The other is the street category, which includes stairs, handrails and ramps and emulates the urban routes that are the essence of this sport.

The Ariake Park is located near the Athletes’ Village, has a capacity of 7,000 spectators in temporary stands and will also host BMX competitions.

Competition system

Both in the park and on the street, skaters have a limited time to perform a succession of maneuvers Of free choice, they receive a score from the judges based on the speed, height, fluidity, technical complexity and originality with which they are executed.

In each event, 20 men and 20 women will participate, making a total of 80 athletes. A place in each event is reserved for Japan as host of the Games, while classification of up to three skaters per event from each country has been allowed.

In the park, the skaters compete in a preliminary round and a final, in which they will have turns of 45 seconds that are scored on a scale from 0 to 100. The eight best of the first round go to the final, where the medals will be decided .

On the street, the skaters also compete in the preliminary and final rounds, in which they must each execute two courses and five “tricks” (performed separately from those included in their courses), scored on a scale from 0 to 10. eight best will also qualify for the final.

Terminology

Skateboarding has its own jargon of exclusive words and terms in English. One of the most used is ollie, a maneuver that serves as the basis for many other tricks and that consists of jumping hitting the rear end of the board against the ground.

Another of the most common movements is the grind or sliding the metal axles of the skateboard wheels over the edge of a concrete surface, a railing or other similar structure.

In aerial maneuvers the different combinations of the word abound flip (turn) together with different postures and references to the angle of rotation (180º or 360º).

According to their main position on the board, skaters differ between regular (with the left foot in front) and goofy (with the right).

Favorites

The American Nyjah Huston, maximum figure of the current skate, is a clear candidate for a medal in the street test. The Japanese Yuto Horigome, brand new world champion and number two in the World Skate ranking, will be one of the few capable of competing for the gold, something to which the Brazilian Kelvin Hoefler will also aspire.

In the park, all eyes will be on Americans Heimana Reinolds and Cory Juneau, and Brazilians Luiz Francisco and Pedro Barros.

The Japanese Misugu Okamoto and Sakura Yosozumi dominate the women’s park category, where they also There will be a huge expectation to see in action the British of Japanese descent Sky Brown, at only 13 years old one of the world’s skateboarding sensations.

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