From poor childhood and absent father to Paris 2024: the stardom of Rebeca Andrade
May 14, 2024

When South America looks to Paris 2024, there is no doubt that some do it with more expectations than others, in this case we are talking about Rebeca Andrade, the first South American to win a gold medal in the ‘all around’ of Olympic gymnastics.

The lonely stands of Tokyo had the privilege of witnessing not only the gold medal, but also the silver of the young world champion and ambassador of Panam Sport. “I feel happy, I did everything I prepared, even after a competition as important as a world championship, it makes me proud to present myself here the way I did,” she said after the feat in the Japanese capital.

Now, the Paulista, born in Guarulhos on May 30, 1999, knows that the eyes of her country and the entire sporting continent will be on her as she seeks to repeat her Olympic glory. At that moment, prior to her well-rehearsed run, it may be that in her mind all the road she has traveled may be disorderly agglomerated, like that playful and tireless girl of only 5 years old, as her discoverer evokes her: “I remember seeing her all muscular, with her little arms and strong legs. I adored her from the beginning.

It was the time when Rebeca was starting in gymnastics and Brazil was living under the influence of its first world title won in 2003, the first for a Brazilian woman in this sport, which was a constant inspiration for the current “diamond” of Brazilian and regional gymnastics. Also, should appear in her mind, the face of Junior Fagundes, the coach who took her to her first international competition in 2009. “Everything about him was above average, the acrobatics, the body awareness, the mastery of the pirouettes,” Fagundes recalls today.

From then on, the sweat and discipline learned in Curitiba and Flamengo, his current sporting home, will surely be on parade. And of course, the moments when doubt and discomfort, due to a couple of operations as a result of rebellious injuries, brought her close to an unthinkable and painful retirement will not be absent either. Joys, disappointments, fears and hopes, will be part of the bouquet of memories before trying to meet her own and others’ expectations in Paris 2024.

Despite the colossal difference, the anxiety will be comparable to the one she felt at the age of 13 when she became Brazilian champion, a moment when, despite a poor childhood and an absent father, she managed to beat life. There she realized, moreover, that it was not the end of the road, but the beginning. The French capital will not be the terminus either, but it will mark a new milestone for the brilliance of the “Diamond of Guarulhos” to be seen clearly amidst the glare of the “City of Light”.

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