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Girl Who Went Viral for Skateboarding in Fairy Costume 6 Years Ago Wins Olympic Silver Medal

·3-min read
Rayssa Leal
Rayssa Leal

Li Ga/Xinhua via Getty Images

Years after Tony Hawk reshared a video of Rayssa Leal landing a trick while wearing a fairy costume, the Brazilian skateboarder took home silver at the Tokyo Olympics.

Leal, 13, came in second in the first Olympic women's street skateboarding event on Sunday. The impressive milestone came six years after Hawk, 53, posted a video to Twitter of the then-7-year-old successfully landing a heelflip in a blue fairy costume. The clip quickly went viral and has since been viewed more than 2.3 million times.

"I don't know anything about this but it's awesome: a fairytale heelflip in Brazil by #RayssaLeal," Hawk wrote at the time.

The wunderkind now has a following of 6 million on Instagram thanks to her skating skills and was nominated for Action Sportsperson at the Laureus Awards in 2020.

"Everybody can skateboard when they are very young," Leal told reporters after the event. "I always thought all sports are available for girls and boys. There's no gender barriers in sports."

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"It's not right to think while you have to study you can't go and skateboard because skate is for boys," she continued. "I didn't listen to that kind of message. My parents have always been with me, with my first championship and following up on that I went forward. I really think skateboarding is for everyone."

Despite earning acclaim on the world's biggest sporting stage, Leal said she's looking forward to returning home and being "a little girl."

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"I dream of a good future for me and my brothers and I want to go on with being a little girl that I am, having fun with my friends," she said.

"I don't want to have too many responsibilities right now. I just want to be a lovely, lively little girl that I am for the whole Brazil," Leal added.

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Momiji Nishiya of Japan, who earned gold in the event, said winning the final was the "best joy I ever had."

"I've never experienced that level of emotions," Nishiya, 13, told reporters after taking earning her first-place medal.

Momiji NIshiya
Momiji NIshiya

Naoki Morita/AFLO/Shutterstock Momiji Nishiya

American skateboarder Alexis Sablone, 34, told PEOPLE she is encouraged by the female skaters who got to showcase their talents at the Games.

"For a long time, there were way fewer females doing this," Sablone, who finished fourth, said. "It's taken until now to get enough people to pay attention, to get enough eyes on it, to inspire girls around the world to start skating. So you can get that freak of nature I'd say — you can get someone like Rayssa, who is exceptional. It's wild to see."

With Reporting From Adam Carlson

To learn more about Team USA, visit Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.

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