Perseverance Personified – Interview Preview!

By Ashlee Buhler

Sometimes the world works in mysterious ways. Three ACL surgeries in four years, a global pandemic, an Olympic postponement. Seemingly one obstacle after another, and yet nothing could stop Rebeca Andrade from achieving her lifelong goal of becoming an Olympic medalist. Her story is one of perseverance, determination and faith. It’s also one of overcoming odds and dreams coming true. 

In Tokyo Andrade did something no female Brazilian gymnast has ever done: stand atop the medal podium. And she did it not just once, but twice. First it was a silver in the All-Around final, followed by a gold on vault. With a performance and smile that radiates confidence and joy, Andrade became a national hero; a symbol of what can be achieved against the odds. More importantly, she sent a message to every young gymnast in Brazil: dream big and never give up, because in the end, anything is possible.

In August, just weeks after returning home from Tokyo, Andrade spoke with Inside Gymnastics about her historic Olympic achievements and what lies ahead. 

Has it sunk in yet—everything you achieved in Tokyo? 

I think after I came back from Tokyo I had a better understanding of everything that happened; everything I did at the Olympic Games, everything that I represented. I’m so happy! All the affection I’m getting from everyone and being able to inspire so many people, not just children—it’s been amazing! 

Coming into Tokyo, did you believe winning a gold and silver medal was a possible outcome? 

I really believed that this result was possible because I dedicated myself a lot, I trained hard, and there were many professionals involved in my recovery process before Tokyo. Every time I had to restart [because of an ACL surgery], it was not just a dream, it was a very big goal. In sports, anything can happen. Even though I trained a lot, I could not have achieved the results [without a positive mindset]. My thinking was always positive. I always believed it was possible.

What was your favorite moment from the games aside from winning medals? 

My favorite moment in the Olympic Games, other than my medals, was when I could go cheer for other sports. I watched rhythmic gymnastics and volleyball, and it was really cool! I screamed like crazy, cheered too much and in that moment, I was the fan. It was a moment when I was more relaxed!

What message do you hope your performances in Tokyo have sent to the rest of the world, as well as to all the young gymnasts in Brazil?

I hope the message that I have given with my presentations is one of faith and a lot of determination, because that’s what I had throughout my recovery period. I think everyone will face difficult days, at least one once in a lifetime, but we have to try our best. It’s easy to be happy on a good day; being happy on a bad day is complicated. My coach told me that a lot. When training rested it’s easy to do all the sets, but the day I’m tired, that’s really when it’s going to be worth it; that’s the workout I’ll remember. I hope the message I’ve sent is to have a lot of determination, with love and passion, and to be happy. That’s the main thing.

See the full story and interview including Andrade’s thoughts on the Olympic postponement, how much the support of her country means to her and what’s next in her career (Paris 2024!) in the November/December issue of Inside Gymnastics magazine!

Photos by Ricardo Bufolin for Inside Gymnastics

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