The Brazilian skate prodigy found viral fame and the nickname ‘Fadinha do Skate’ at seven due to her talent, but wants to be seen differently after rocking the world with her silver medal winning street skate performance at Tokyo 2020 in 2021.
Brazil’s youngest ever Olympic medallist shared recently on Atlas Horas – a Brazilian television program – that she would prefer to be called by her name rather than her famous moniker 'Fadinha do skate', which translates to 'skating fairy'.
“A lot of people ask me if I like the nickname,” Leal shared on the show.
“In fact, I do, but I know I’m growing up and I really want to be called by Rayssa Leal, which is my name, but now there’s no way anymore, Skate Fairy will stick with [me for the] rest of my life.”
13-year-old Brazilian Rayssa Leal took Tokyo 2020 by storm as skateboarding made its Olympic debut.
Leal, nicknamed "The Skating Fairy," was the youngest competitor in the women's street skateboarding final packed with drama, thrills, and spills. Nishiya Momiji won the gold, sharing the podium with Rayssa Leal and Nakayama Funa.
The signature name was born out of Leal’s viral moment of fame back in 2015.
At just the tender age of seven, the Brazilian skating phenom got worldwide attention when a short video clip of her failing, and then nailing a heelflip down a flight of stairs while while wearing a blue fairy dress, was watched by millions.
Even skateboarding legend Tony Hawk shared the video to his social media at the time – not knowing that one day the girl he was so impressed with would make history at the Olympic Games.
Now as Leal gets older, and her list of achievements stack up the teenager is keen to move past that chapter and be known for the talented athlete that she is.
Rayssa Leal: Silver medallist stunning the competition on and off the field of play
Medalling for Brazil in the inaugural women’s street skateboarding event at Tokyo 2020, Leal was among a group of teenagers who made an instant impact in 2021, to win one of the Games’ top prizes.
Finishing in front of her, in the gold medal position, was fellow 13-year-old NISHIYA Momiji of Japan. The bronze went to NAKAYAMA Funa, aged 16, also representing the host nation.
Not only was the world amazed at the new sport they were seeing on the Olympic stage, and the skill and precision with which the skateboarders were executing their tricks and flips across the skate park, but it was also touched by the aura of inclusivity radiating from the competitors.
Leal was constantly on hand to help lift her rivals’ spirits with acts of kindness and friendship.
She rallied her friends with hugs and cheers as they showcased their sport to a new audience for the very first time.
Even when Momiji pipped Leal to the gold, the Brazilian expressed the true power of the Olympics spirit when she rushed over to be the first to embrace her Japanese rival in congratulations.
Fans later voted Leal for an award to mark her inspirational display.
A skating phenom on the rise
For those familiar with the skate scene, Rayssa Leal has been a name to watch for a while.
At 11, the goofy-footed skateboarder became the youngest ever to win a women's final on the Street League Skateboarding World Tour, in Los Angeles.
Later that year she followed up her top prize by coming in fourth on her X Games debut in Minneapolis 2019.
However, just weeks ahead of the Games, Leal showed why the country's new generation should not be ruled out when she bested her countrywomen to win bronze at the Street World Championships in Rome.
With the Paris 2024 Olympic Games just three year's away, everyone is now wondering just what Leal will accomplish in that time. The 13-year-old's list of achievements is already mightily impressive:
Viral fame? Check.
Making history? Check.
Olympic medal? Check.
Youth really came to the fore at Tokyo 2020 with 12-year-old Syrian table tennis prodigy Hend Zaza the youngest athlete at the Games. Youngsters dominated skateboarding with 13-year-old NISHIYA Momiji taking gold and HIRAKI Kokona, Rayssa Leal and Sky Brown all winning medals. And 14-year-old QUAN Hongchan won diving gold for China.