Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade, 24, had a year in 2023 not to forget. She won five medals at the World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, including a gold in the vault, beating none other than the American Simone Biles in the final. At the Pan American Games in Santiago, she repeated her spectacular performance with four more medals, two of which were gold (on vault and beam).
The woman from Guarulhos, who started in the sport through a social project, appears to be quite calm both in relation to her recent achievements and the upcoming challenges, such as competing in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
“Whenever we do something, it’s not always enough. But as I know that people’s expectations are not in my control, I don’t need to worry about it”, says the gymnast in an interview with Sheet.
“My biggest goal in Paris is to arrive well, healthy, to be able to do the gymnastics I want to do at that moment”, says Rebeca.
The multi-time artistic gymnastics champion also says that, in addition to the need for more and more social projects to reveal new talents, people also need to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.
“My family did their best for me so that I could achieve my best, within our conditions. In addition to having more opportunities, I think it also comes from people knowing how to take advantage of this opportunity”, says the Brazilian.
What is your assessment after your achievements at the World Cup and Pan American Games and receiving recognition from other great athletes, such as Simone Biles?
I’m very calm about this issue. I feel very happy with the level I’ve reached, the athlete I’ve become. It was very difficult to get here, there were many hands shaping me, supporting me and encouraging me to achieve everything I have achieved.
And what does Simone [Biles] It’s for gymnastics, what she did there with me at that moment [enquanto aguardavam para receber a medalha na prova de solo no Mundial, a norte-americana, que levou o ouro na disputa, fez um gesto como se passasse uma coroa para a brasileira, que ficou com a prata] that was a [momento] intimate of us, we didn’t even know that the camera was recording, but she always had a great affection for me. We didn’t talk much, but whenever we stopped to say something, she was always very affectionate and I was very happy.
After the achievements achieved this year, should you enter 2024 differently than you started in 2023?
I don’t know if I’ll be different, I think I’ll be the same Rebeca as always, with all my joy, always wanting to do my best, ready to give 110% in competitions. I think people see me differently. It’s very difficult to talk about ourselves.
I’m going to do my best, with my usual joy, which I think is what infects everyone when they watch me compete. That smile on your face and the sparkle in your eyes from doing what you love is priceless. I hope to enter even more prepared and confident to do my best. Every year I arrive a little more prepared and confident and that is very important to me. So maybe that’s a difference. But the heart is the same, the desires are the same, the goal is the same. The result is a consequence, but the objective is to achieve the maximum. I will always try to do my best.
After the great performance in 2023, do you feel that the pressure is increasing in the search for good results in Olympics?
People always expect more. Whenever we do something, it’s not always enough, but as I know that people’s expectations are not in my control, I don’t need to worry about that. As I said, the result is a consequence. Of course we want a medal, and the more medals, the better. But if it doesn’t happen either, I don’t think I need to feel disappointed. We will always be sad, because we train hard to perform our best. But mistakes are part of it, success is part of it.
I don’t feel pressured to come back with one, two, three or six medals. We train a lot and whatever will be, will be. I respect my head and my body a lot
I don’t feel pressured to come back with one, two, three or six medals. We train a lot and whatever will be, will be. I really respect my head, my body, all the professionals who are working with me, and I know that we are there to do our best. The only person I can control is me. As long as I’m controlling myself to do my best, that’s what matters to me. But I hope to have great results.
What are the objectives set for Paris?
My biggest goal in Paris is to arrive well, healthy, to be able to do the gymnastics I want to do at that moment. Arriving and leaving the competition with a clear conscience, that I couldn’t do anything different, that I did my best. The result is a consequence. Me doing my best, showing the most that Rebeca has to show the world, is what matters.
Should new things be expected during the presentations in the French capital?
We always do new things, the whole world has new things. But we’ll have to wait and find out. I’ll leave you with this question [risos].
How was the preparation for the achievements in 2023? Should it be changed in any way or will it remain the same for the Olympic Games?
This preparation part is organized by our coach, Francisco. [Porath Neto]. But the preparation we made to go to the World Cup and other competitions was training here in Brazil, then we did some ‘camping’, which is when girls from other clubs in Rio de Janeiro gather at the training center and trained all world together. We were able to evaluate the evolution of each girl, this is very important for us to create the best composition for the team to go to the World Cup. I imagine it could be a little similar to the year 2023, but maybe there will be some changes.
What does Brazil need to do to have more Rebecas Andrades in gymnastics?
I’m not sure what Brazil should do to show not only more Rebecas, but more Flávias, more Jades, more Lorranes, more Júlias and a bunch more girls who also have a lot of talent, a lot of potential. And Brazil is full of talent.
I think keep giving opportunities. I started through a social project, which brought me here, it was the biggest opportunity of my life. But it’s not just about us having more social projects, it’s about people also knowing how to take advantage of these opportunities. The child who will start, the parents who are there encouraging, the uncles, the grandparents, the person who will take the child to practice that sport. They also believe in that and do their best so that the child also reaches their best.
My family did their best for me so that I could achieve my best there in the gym, within our conditions. So, in addition to having more opportunities, I think it also comes from people knowing how to take advantage of this opportunity when it arises. I lived it. I had the opportunity and I took advantage of it and I had people who helped me grow every day.
X-ray | Rebeca Andrade, 24
Born in Guarulhos on May 8, 1999, the gymnast started in the sport through a social project in her hometown. At the Tokyo Olympic Games, she became the first Brazilian Olympic champion, when she won gold in diving. She was also the first in the country to win two medals at the same Olympics — she also took silver in the all-around. In 2022, she was world champion in the individual all-around, taking silver in the same event in 2023.