Pamela Rosa: Top facts you did not know about the Brazilian skateboarding star 

She’s the No 1 ranked skateboarder on the women’s street scene and is renowned for her ability to hold her own on the rails, but did you know that football was her first love?

By Chloe Merrell
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

22-year-old Pamela Rosa is a street skateboarding ace at the top of the deck.

A two-time world champion and six-time X Games medallist the Brazilian is a certified favourite nearly every competition she enters.

Her ruthlessly fast and clean style sets is just one of her many traits that set apart from her other street rivals. Another, is her drive to be the best and expose her sport to as many people as possible.

As she launches her Paris 2024 bid at the upcoming World Skate Street Skateboarding Championships in Rome - the first Olympic qualifier of the cycle – here is a guide to everything you need to know about the number one ranked women’s street skateboarder in the world.

READ: The Olympic street skateboarding qualifiers are beginning! What to look out for at the first event in Rome

WATCH: 'World Street Skateboarding Rome 2022 live on Olympics.com.

Only a handful people of knew that Rosa was injured at Tokyo 2020
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Her first love was football  

Though hard now to imagine, there was a time when Rosa wasn’t skateboarding. 

In her early years the young Brazilian started off playing football – one of the most popular sports in her country. 

But while she might have enjoyed kicking a ball around, according to Rosa, her mother wasn’t so keen. 

Writing a letter addressed to her mum Evania in the Players’ Tribune, Rosa spoke about her beginnings in the sport and her mum’s disapproval: 

“I know you don't even like to remember the phase when I was playing around with a ball. At that time, Dona Evania was afraid that I would get hurt... I thought, I don't know, that my mother didn't want me to have fun.” 

Once Rosa chanced upon a skateboard, she quickly went about swapping her studs for a set of wheels.  

Evania was quietly relieved but Rosa believes it was by watching her develop her first passion for football that her mum realised that her life would somehow be intwined in sport.

Sacrifices had to made at the start

It was by chance that Rosa discovered skateboarding. 

According to the Brazilian she first saw a skateboard when a friend of her sister’s came to visit the family home. Before entering the house, the friend left the skateboard at the door leaving it for Rosa to find. 

When she saw it, she asked if she could take it for a ride. But she was told that she was too young. 

When everyone’s backs were turned Rosa seized the opportunity and jumped on the board.  

“Man, I couldn’t even put the feeling into words,” the Brazilian continues to the Players’ Tribune describing how her first go on a skateboard felt. “I just knew that after that, I just dreamed of the day I'd have the chance to ride again. 

“Yes, I wanted to be a soccer player, I had even received proposals to play in teams, something I really wanted, but when I started skateboarding, the feeling of freedom... There was no equal. It was stronger than me.” 

Resolute to make her skateboarding dream a reality, Rosa begged her parents for her own skateboard. But life for her family in Sao Paulo was hard. Rosa, her two sisters and parents, shared a one-bedroom house between them. 

In order to afford their daughter a skateboard, Rosa’s parents had to stop paying the water and electricity bills that month.  

Like her start, the first few years in the sport were also tough for skater.  

“For the few years it was tough to get to the contests, to be able to pay for the travel and the hotels,” Rosa explained in an exclusive interview with Olympics.com.

“My friends from the neighbourhood would give me used parts for my board. And then sometimes a small, local sponsor would give me a free board or free wheels.” 

But once the wins started rolling in for Rosa things got much better and she was able to repay her family and friends for their sacrifices.

Pamela Rosa with Rayssa Leal and Leticia Bufoni - two of Brazil's other great female skaters
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

She made her X Games debut at 13 

When the X Games invitation dropped into 13-year-old's Rosa’s e-mail inbox the Brazilian could not quite believe it. 

Having watched the prestigious extreme sports event on television getting the call to participate was a seminal moment for the Brazilian. 

Though her debut at X Games Foz du Iguaco in 2013 didn’t quite go to plan, 12 months later she had almost entirely reversed her fortune.  

She took two second-place podium finishes at X Games Austin 2014 and 2015 before then clinching two X Games wins in 2016. First in Oslo and then in Austin.  

To date, Rosa has six X Games medals of which two are gold.

Pamela Rosa won the final of the SLS Super Crown World Championship in November last year
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Tokyo 2020: A secret injury and an almighty comeback

As the winner of the world street skateboarding championship in 2019, Rosa touched down in Japan for Tokyo 2020 in 2021 as one of the favourites to medal in the women’s street competition. 

But when the Brazilian only managed a tenth place finish  there was a tangible air of disappointment. 

It wasn’t until after the event ended that Rosa revealed the reason she hadn’t brought her best to the Olympics was because she had torn the ligament in her left ankle two days before leaving for the Japanese capital. 

Not wanting to give up Rosa kept the injury secret. Even her mother did not know. 

“Two days before my departure, I felt it. It was a ligament injury that brought pain that wouldn't go away,” wrote the Olympian in the Players’ Tribune. 

“When I arrived in Tokyo, I already knew, deep down, that I wouldn't be able to give my best in the competition I had prepared for several years of my life.  

“Still, I didn't give up. I tried to recover and concentrated to do some manoeuvres, but it didn't work. That was pretty sad.” 

While it didn’t work out for Brazil’s number one female skater at the Olympics she continued not to give up. 

A couple of months later she defeated Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Rayssa Leal to win the world skateboarding championships in Jacksonville.

PATHWAY TO PARIS 2024: SKATEBOARDING

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