After Rebeca Andrade’s silver gymnastics Olympic medal, Brazilians also celebrate Daiane dos Santos, the first black woman champion gymnast
By Marques Travae
For the past few days in black Brazil’s networks, it seems that the hot topic continues to be Rebeca Andrade’s winning of the silver medal in women’s gymnastics at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. In reality, people aren’t just celebrating Rebeca’s victory. They are also celebrating the achievements of woman who paved the way for her success, gymnast Daiane dos Santos, who surprised the gymnastics world in the early years of the 21st century.
Dos Santos won an impressive total of gold, silver and bronze medals during her career, but even having competed in the summer Olympics three times representing Brazil in 2004, 2008 and 2012, Olympic medals just weren’t in the cards for her. But even not managing to achieve this dream, her place in history cannot be denied. She may not have won any Olympic medals, but she still became the first black gymnast to ever win on the World Championship stage while simultaneously becoming the first Brazilian and South-American to win the competition.
- Maybe you all didn’t know but Daiane dos Santos was the first black woman in the world to win a gold medal in the world championship of gymnastics.
- IT STARTED AS A DREAM; IT WORKED OUT – Daiane planted the seed and we are harvesting the fruit with Rebeca
I know it appears to be cliché when people often say that someone paved the way for someone’s else’s success, in this case, it is certainly justified. Since Rebeca’s victory, internet users have been combing footage of her performances side by side with those of Daiane’s with some posts featuring only Daiane to remind people that before there was Rebeca, there was Daiane.
One of the most memorable videos that has recently surfaced was a video of dos Santos training with a small group of children who were entering the world of gymnastics. In the feature, Daiane spoke but then at the end of the video, a 10-year Rebeca Andrade was also interviewed. According to reports, the video was recorded in 2009.
With Andrade’s triumph in Tokyo, it was obvious that dos Santos would be cheering her on and that’s exactly what we have seen. Now a commentator on Globo TV’s sports segments, cameras caught dos santos jumping and screaming at the television screen as Andrade received her silver medal.
Even being regarded as one of Brazil’s greatest athletes, dos santos has spoken very candidly about the racist treatment she received during her ascent in the gymnastics world. But even with these issues, she won over millions of Brazilians with her 2003 championship, her routine to the sounds of the famous song and her performance to “Brasileirinho” and her silver medal at the 2007 Pan American Games.
With all that she accomplished, opinions that black girls didn’t belong in the gymnastics and her disappointment in three Olympic appearances, it was perhaps dos Santos would most understand the significance of Andrade’s victory. This became apparent in her comments after Rebeca’s victory.
Tearing up in front of the camera, an emotional dos Santos spoke on what the moment meant.
“For a long time, people said that we couldn’t have a black gymnast, that black people couldn’t do some sports. And us having today the first medal for a black girl has a very big representation behind all of this,” she began.
“She is a woman, a girl who comes from a very humble background, raised by a single mother, Rosa, because her father is alive, but not present. She endured everything that she did, all the injuries. And here she is today, to be the second-best athlete in the world, a Brazilian. Look… I couldn’t express myself properly because it’s very hard”, said Daiane to journalist Galvão Bueno.
”Rebeca Andrade, by Daiane dos Santos, a black woman who opened doors for the first Brazilian medalist in the general individual gymnastics, who continues breaking barriers and has gone through racism and “paternal abortion”. Exciting.’- Luana Assiz (@luanassiz) July 29, 2021
Rebeca Andrade is the first black woman to win a medal in gymnastics, which has always been dominated by white athletes.
Double Layout (Duplo Mortal Estendido)
Daiane dos Santos – Atenas 2004
Rebeca Andrade – Tóquio 2020
— Em busca do ouro das meninas da Ginástica (@qadovigor) July 25, 2021
Rebeca finished second in the individual Artistic Gymnastics event with 57.298 points, less than 200 points behind American Sunisa Lee.
The media ruthlessly criticized Daiane after she failed to repeat her spectacular performance at the 2003 World Championships in order to qualify for the 2004 Olympics. However, because of her pioneering success in gymnastics, Brazilians and the world can now witness Rebeca, who came to known as the ‘little Daiane of Guarulhos’ while still a child in her early years as a hopeful gymnast in Guarulhos, São Paulo.