It would be an understatement to say that Brazil is going through some tough times. From the violence and widespread hate during the 2018 election, through to the Brumadinho dam disaster in 2019 and the reckless burning of Brazil’s Amazon and Pantanal, topped off with the surge of Covid-19, what the country has been desperate for is a glimmer of hope and a reason for joy.
Lo and behold, the Tokyo Olympics came along to be an effective balm for the nation during this trying period. And the pinnacle of this catharsis came in the early hours of Monday morning, when 13-year-old Rayssa Leal — the youngest athlete ever to represent Brazil at the Olympic Games — won the silver medal in the women’s street skateboarding competition.
Rayssa hasn’t come out of nowhere. Videos of her skating around her home town of Imperatriz dressed in a fairy costume went viral when she was just six years old. She immediately became known as “Fadinha,” or Little Fairy, and gained a legion of admirers from around the world — perhaps none more illustrious than skate legend Tony Hawk, who looked on from the sidelines in this week’s final, camera in hand and beaming with pride.
Rayssa’s medal in what was the first Olympic skateboarding competition in history is likely to serve as inspiration for an entire generation of young skater boys and girls. Indeed, Brazilian sporting goods site Netshoes has noticed a 30 percent increase in searches for skateboards since Rayssa won her silver medal.
And Rayssa’s historic success has not been the only reason for Brazilians to celebrate at these Games. Swimmer Fernando Scheffer came from nowhere to win bronze in the 200m freestyle, surfer Ítalo Ferreira grabbed gold in the men’s final, and other triumphs have come in judo and men’s skateboarding. Just this morning, Rebeca Andrade made history in the women’s all-around gymnastics final, becoming the first Brazilian woman to win an Olympic medal in the sport and walking away with the silver.
The Brazilian Report team would like to express our congratulations and thanks to Rayssa and all Brazil’s medalists so far. Sometimes fairy tales do come true.