Brazilian skateboarder Rayssa Leal is a silver medalist at the Olympics at just 13, but viral fame is a “been there, done that” for the powerhouse athlete
Among the many talented young athletes kicking butt in their respective sports in Tokyo for the Summer Games right now is Rayssa Leal, a Brazilian skateboarder who took home the first women’s street skateboarding Olympic silver medal on Monday, July 26. Rayssa is just 13 years old, but fame on a global scale is nothing new for the teenage athlete — in fact, she experienced viral fame at the ripe old age of eight after sharing an epic video of herself skateboarding in a vibrant fairy princess outfit, proving that grit and determination really can make dreams come true.
Rayssa competed among several Olympic skateboarders under the age of 18, dazzling her worldwide audience in Japan and beyond with a series of impressive tricks, flips, and moves and securing her place in Olympics history among the youngest silver medalists. Her many fans — including skateboarding legend Tony Hawk — cheered her on every step of the way, with Rayssa revealing on Instagram that it was Hawk who inspired her to pursue skateboarding after that aforementioned video went viral.
Back in 2015, Rayssa shared a clip of herself on the now-defunct Vine app trying to nail some heelflips on a set of stairs (and looking adorable in a bright blue princess dress, to boot!). The video caught Hawk’s attention, with Rayssa thanking Hawk for his support over the years. “Six years ago he introduced me to the world of skateboarding by sharing my video wearing a fairy costume,” she wrote in her caption. Today, he filmed me at the Olympics. This is all so amazing, I’m living a dream! ❤️ Thank you @tonyhawk to being so kidding and always motivating me.”
In the comments section, Hawk gushed about her success, writing, “You have exceeded all expectations! It’s been an honor to be involved in some small way.”
She even got the meme treatment from the official Olympics social media accounts after her big win in Tokyo.
Of course, Rayssa seems pretty nonplussed by it all — she told the Washington Post that she’s already cool with going back to normal now that she’s achieved Olympic success.
“I want to go back to being the little girl I am,” Rayssa told the publication in her native Portuguese. “I don’t want to have responsibility. I want to go on being the lively little girl I am for all of Brazil.”
Here’s hoping she gets plenty of rest and relaxation. Rayssa is definitely an inspiration to young athletes and sports lovers around the world, and it all started with a Vine video and a dream.