A Brazilian skateboarding sensation who went viral at the age of 7 while skating in fairy wings and a blue dress is back on the global stage but this time capturing more than just hearts: She’s taking home an Olympic medal.
Rayssa Leal, at 13, has become one of the youngest athletes to win an Olympic medal after competing in the first women’s street skateboarding event in Tokyo on Sunday.
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images
Her incredible silver medal moment ― shared with gold medalist Momiji Nishiya, also 13, and bronze winner Funa Nakayama, 16 ― came six years after a 14-second Vine video of her tumbling twice before successfully landing a heelflip off a set of stairs caught the attention of famed US skater Tony Hawk.
“I don’t know anything about it but it’s awesome,” Hawk tweeted at the time while sharing the video of what he called a “fairytale heelflip.”
In 2021, Leal is not only shredding handrails and crushing gender stereotypes in a male-dominated sport but is doing so alongside Hawk, who joined her at the skate park in Tokyo.
“Six years ago he introduced me to the world of skateboarding by sharing my video wearing a fairy costume. Today, he filmed me at the Olympics,” she posted on Instagram with photos of him standing alongside her. “This is all so amazing, I’m living a dream!”
“You have exceeded all expectations!” Hawk wrote back. “It’s been an honor to be involved in some small way. And thanks for the clips!”
How flipping awesome.