Rebeca Andrade didn’t know she was competing in the Olympics until a month ago.
It was at the Pan American games in early June that Andrade punched her ticket to Tokyo, and though she was a late addition to the all-around qualifiers, she emerged as a top competitor. With a sky-high vault, a rock solid beam set and powerful tumbling passes on floor, Andrade clinched a silver in the women’s artistic gymnastics all-around final to become the first woman from Brazil to ever win a medal in the sport.
Fans who have followed Andrade’s career have long known she was capable of keeping up with the best, but the 22-year-old struggled through multiple ACL injuries. She came to Tokyo healthy and proved what she is capable of when at the top of her game.
In the Olympic all-around final, Andrade was narrowly edged out by Suni Lee but had the lead after two rotations. She posted a massive 15.300 on vault in the first rotation for a beautiful Cheng, a skill that Simone Biles and Jade Carey also compete, and improved her bars score from qualifications. After balance beam she moved into second behind Lee but was favored to clinch the gold on floor exercise, an event she scored well on during qualifications.
The Brazilian needed a 13.802 to win and scored well over that in the qualification but went out of bounds on two tumbling passes. Her 13.666 raised her total to 57.298 which was high enough to surpass Russian Angelina Melnikova who finished in third.
Andrade will have more chances for individual medals next week in the vault and floor event finals.