Rebeca Andrade headed back to the Olympics

The 2016 Olympian qualified to Tokyo 2020 after rehabbing her third ACL injury

By Scott Bregman
Picture by 2016 Getty Images

Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade easily won the all-around title at the Pan American Championships Saturday (5 June) in Rio. With the victory, Andrade has qualified to the Tokyo Olympic Games, scheduled for July 2021.

Andrade earned a total score of 56.700. Martina Dominici of Argentina (52.400) is second, followed by Luciana Alvardo Reid of Costa Rica (50.833). Alvardo Reid earned the second Tokyo quota spot up-for-grabs at the event with Dominici having already qualified via the 2019 Worlds.

“[The Olympics are] something that a high-performance athlete desires and longs for, something that she wants to conquer in any possible way, so it's very important,” Andrade told Olympic Channel in an exclusive interview last month. “I really want this and I'm training a lot for it.”

It has been far from easy for the 22-year-old. In June 2019, she suffered her third ACL tear. The injury kept her out of that year’s World Championships – the first in a serious of unfortunate events that ended with Brazil, which was in contention for team bronze at the 2018 global competition, failing to qualify a full team to the Games.

Then, came the coronavirus pandemic that kept Andrade mostly out of competition for nearly two years.

If she was feeling the nerves after such a long layoff and the added pressure of Olympic qualification, it did not show. She was rock solid in her first two events, scoring 14.800 for her Yurchenko double twist and 14.400 on the uneven bars. Her first hiccup of the day came on the balance beam where she wobbled on a switch ring leap but held on for a 13.800.

In the final rotation, she posted an 13.700 on floor exercise to complete her competition and punch her ticket to Tokyo.

"First, thank you God!" Andrade said in a post on Instagram. "Thank you all... thanks for all the positive energy, thanks for believing in me at all costs... I just have to thank you, really!!!"