With gravity-defying tumbling and confidence that seems to grow with every routine, Rebeca Andrade made history on Thursday at the world championships in Liverpool, England, becoming the first South American gymnast to win the all-around title.
The 23-year-old Brazilian competitor, who earned all-around silver at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, entered the event as the favorite — and she more than lived up to the hype.
Starting the day on vault — the event on which she is the reigning Olympic champion — Andrade made her front-runner status clear right away. With a 15.166, including a mind-blowing 9.566 for execution, it was the highest score of the day for any gymnast on any event.
See for yourself why with the clip below — and then give yourself a chance to watch it another three or four times to fully appreciate it.
Andrade wasn’t nearly as perfect on bars, her second event, and had some errors throughout, requiring her to make some on-the-fly (literally) adjustments. But she appeared completely unfazed. In fact, in what might just be the ultimate flex, she laughed it off when it was over.
Americans Shilese Jones and Jade Carey gained some ground on Andrade’s lead at the halfway point but it never truly seemed in jeopardy.
There were a few more mistakes on balance beam, but with her high level of difficulty, Andrade held on to the lead, with Jones less than a point behind.
As the final gymnast to compete on floor in the last rotation of the day, and on the heels of some incredible routines from Jones, Carey and Great Britain’s Jessica Gadirova, Andrade owned the moment.
At the Olympics, floor had been the event on which Andrade was unable to clinch the win. But there were no signs of nerves on Thursday. Instead, Andrade had everyone in the crowd — even those rooting for the local favorites — clapping and cheering during her show-stopping routine.
While the judges made her wait for what felt like an eternity for her score to make it official, her status as gymnastics’ new queen seemed all but certain from the moment she walked off the floor.
Still, she couldn’t hide her excitement when her score was announced.
Andrade has suffered three ACL tears throughout her career that sidelined her for substantial stretches, and she battled COVID-19 during the lead-up to the Tokyo Games. But as she celebrated Thursday, and later smiled on top of the podium with the gold medal draped around her neck and the Brazilian national anthem playing over the loudspeaker, it might have just made the end result even sweeter.
Jones ultimately finished in second place, 1.5 points behind Andrade, and Gadirova came in third, marking the third medal (in three events) for the home team so far — with the women’s team winning silver on Tuesday and the men taking home bronze on Wednesday. Gadirova’s bronze was the first all-around medal won by a British woman.
Gadirova’s teammate Alice Kinsella finished just off the podium in fourth place, with Canada’s Ellie Black and Carey rounding out the top six.