Rayssa Leal: 12-year-old skateboard phenom on a roll to Tokyo
Rayssa Leal is just having fun.
Born in 2008, Rayssa is a Brazilian skateboarding sensation slaying it online with bangin' tricks, viral vids, incredible compilations, and over a half a million followers on Instagram.
Already internet famous at eight-years-old when a clip of her showing some serious skills while dressed as a fairy princess went viral, now Tony Hawk records her red-carpet kickflips on his phone and she goes jamming with friend and fellow pre-teen prodigy Sky Brown.
But there's so much more to Rayssa than just rockin' Insta and takin' over TikTok:
At 11 Leal became the youngest ever skater to win a Women's Final on the Street League Skateboarding World Tour in Los Angeles ahead of current World No.1 Pamela Rosa and Alana Smith, Rayssa won fourth place at her first ever X Games, and is currently second in World Street Skateboarding rankings.
She's already a world beater at 12 years of age.
She looks ready to rock the party in Japan, but qualification isn't a dead cert...
Rayssa Leal Olympics
So how do you qualify for the Olympics?
- The three highest placed skaters at the 2020 World Skateboarding Championships will automatically qualify.
- Another 16 athletes will qualify through the Olympic World Skateboarding Rankings.
- One final place will be reserved for host country Japan and will be allocated to the highest ranked Japanese athlete.
Rayssa is second in the 2020 WSC skateboard street rankings right now behind fellow Brazilian skater Pamela Rose.
We already had the first qualifying season: From January 2019 to September 30, 2019, and the second was set from October 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020 but will be rescheduled after COVID-19 put the world on pause.
So could we see big changes in the rankings?
Will Rayssa Leal qualify for the Tokyo Olympics?
This brilliant Brazilian has the skills and has proved that she can take on the best in the world, most pro watchers think she'll make it, and compete for a medal.
Rayssa is the real deal.
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These young boarders are taking it to established skaters like Brazilians Pamela Rosa (20) and Leticia Bufoni (27), and Japan's Aori Nishimura who's only 18 but actually somehow feels like a different generation next to Rayssa, Sky and Daniela!
Rayssa Leal Fairy
But let's take it back to where it all began.
A video of an unknown 8-year-world wearing a fairy princess costume spreads like fire online, as Rayssa introduces herself to the world.
Heel-flipping down a set of steps, tweaking and grabbing on the back foot in that goofy-foot stance, rail riding like a pro, suddenly the skateboarding world wanted to know:
Who is this girl?
She started skating at 6 and only two years later Rayssa was racking up the views online.
The young star caught the eye quickly on the competition circuit and the invites poured in.
By 2018 she was already proving herself a contender, placing 3rd at the Oi STU Open in 2018.
In January 2019 Leal's name flashed up and brought big cheers from the home crowd at the Rio de Janeiro stop of the Street League World Championships.
Next up at at the Street League World Skate Finals in May of 2019 she finished 3rd overall, and by July 2019 she topped the podium in Los Angeles.
Rayssa Leal vs ❤️ Sky Brown
But it isn't all competition for the 12-year-old star, skateboarding is about fun and friendship too, about getting creative and appreciating the people around you.
When Sky Brown suffered that horror fall in June 2020, Rayssa was one of the first to show love, saying:
"I'm sending wishes for you to get better soon of this huge scary moment... even though we don’t speak to each other in the same language, we got along so well and found a way to communicate...
"We played and had a great time together. When I saw the video of you falling, I got suddenly very sad and now I m here hoping for your fast recovery. You gonna come back soon and stronger, soon we’ll be together in our skateboards riding.
You teaching me park and I teaching you some street skateboarding.
Wishing that you be better soon ❤️"
Here's the post with Rayssa and Sky riding together:
And here they are, together again!
Rayssa Leal skateboard and sponsors
This Brazilian high roller has some of the biggest names in the game behind her.
Success at such a young age has come with a host of big brands who put their name next to Rayssa Leal's.
Here's one of Rayssa's latest videos on her YouTube Channel:
Rayssa Leal's new dog!
Rayssa wanted some company in quarantine and picked up this adorable pooch.
She asked her followers to help her name the doggo in the comments.
Rayssa Leal: The future
The future's exciting if you're a skateboard fan, and even more exciting if you're Rayssa Leal.
With a 20 year + career ahead of her, there's so much to come from Brazil's future of skateboarding.
She may be tiny, but already the power in her jumps, her lightness in the air, the natural, agile way she lands tricks and corrects, all of that have commentators comparing her to one of the smoothest skaters out there:
We may get a glimpse of what's to come from her when skateboarding goes off the rails in Tokyo.
For now, Rayssa Leal is just having fun.