Rayassa Leal, 13, first captured the public’s attention in 2015 when the then 7-year-old went viral in a video showing her landing a heelflip while wearing a sparkly blue dress and white tights.
Now, the young skateboarder is once again making headlines for winning the silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics’ first women’s street skateboarding event.
Despite her burgeoning fame, the Brazilian teen says she’s a lot like other girls her age.
“I want to go back to being the little girl I am,” Leal said of her plans after her big accomplishment, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t want to have responsibility. I want to go on being the lively little girl I am for all of Brazil.”
On July 26, Leal tweeted out a photo of herself proudly wearing her silver medal, writing in her native Portuguese, “Thank you for the fans here, guys. I’m so happy!”
— Rayssa Leal – OFICIAL (@Rayssa_Leal_Sk8) July 26, 2021
When Leal returned to Brazil, she was greeted by a celebration in her honor at the Sao Paolo airport. Check out her happy homecoming in this video tweeted out by CBS News:
Thirteen-year-old skateboarder Rayssa Leal was met with an airport celebration in Sao Paolo, Brazil after becoming the youngest Brazilian to win an Olympic medal. pic.twitter.com/nIT5iJspZC
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 28, 2021
Her fans also include veteran skateboarding champion Tony Hawk, who tweeted out the clip of Leal’s 2015 viral Vine video, writing, “I don’t know anything about this, but it’s awesome: a fairytale heelflip in Brazil by #RayssaLeal (via @oliverbarton)”:
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) September 8, 2015
Another 13-year-old, Momiji Nishiya of Japan, took home the gold medal in the women’s street competition, making her one of the youngest Olympians ever to win gold. Funa Nakayama, 16, also of Japan, won the bronze medal.
American Alexis Sablone, 34, who took fourth place in the competition, is heartened to see more women participating in the sport.
“For a long time there were way fewer females doing this and it’s taken until now for enough people to pay attention, to get enough eyes on it, to inspire more girls around the world to start skating,” Sablone told Reuters. “More power to them, it’s wild to see.”
Congrats to these amazing young athletes!