Rebeca Andrade Becomes Brazil’s First-Ever Female Olympic Medalist in Gymnastics at the Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

Rebeca Andrade may have come short of the gold, but she’s still earned her place in Olympic history…

The 22-year-old Brazilian gymnast claimed the silver medal in the women’s gymnastics all-around competition at the 2020 Tokyo Games, becoming the first female Brazilian gymnast in Olympic history to stand on the podium.

Rebeca Andrade

“I am super happy,” Andrade said. “I hoped for this moment, and I have trained and worked super hard for this moment. I don’t have any words to describe how I am feeling, nor the feeling of having the Olympic silver medal around my neck.”

Andrade had been in medal competition the entire night at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, and battled with eventual champion Sunisa Lee and bronze medalist Angelina Melnikova for the top spot on the leaderboard. It was hard to imagine that Andrade’s status for the Olympics had once been in doubt.

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Andrade tore her anterior cruciate ligament for the third time in her career at the Brazilian Championships in 2019. She was sidelined for the remainder of the season, including the world championships, as she underwent surgery and rehabbed the injury — again. The injury was tough — and the emotional toll was even harder.

In her absence, the Brazilian team failed to qualify for the Olympics, and she needed to clinch a spot as an individual. She went to Baku, Azerbaijan, for her first meet back after injury in March 2020 for a World Cup event. During qualifying, she finished in second place on beam and in third place on bars, advancing to the event finals on both. But, like so many global sporting events during that month, the meet was canceled before any of the finals could get underway. Her comeback was paused yet again, and this time, indefinitely.

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As Brazil was hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, many gyms were closed and training became inconsistent. She joined a delegation of 112 Brazilian athletes in Portugal in order to ensure she could continue preparing to qualify to the Olympics.

Then, in December 2020, she tested positive for the coronavirus. She was asymptomatic but had to withdraw from a competition and temporarily stop training while isolating.

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Through it all, she worked with a sports psychologist who helped her stay focused on her long-term goal of going back to the Olympics. With limited events in 2021 and few opportunities to earn a spot for the Games, Andrade wasn’t even sure in early June whether she would secure a berth to Tokyo.

Her last shot was at the Pan American Championships in which the top two finishers would earn two of the final spots.

She won the all-around by more than four points.

Without her teammates by her side, Andrade qualified to the all-around final in second place, behind only Simone Biles. On Thursday, she showed no signs of slowing down as she took early control of the competition with an impressive Cheng vault — earning a 15.300, tied for the highest score on any event of the night.

She had a chance to clinch the gold medal on floor, her final event of the night. Despite having a higher degree of difficulty than Lee, Andrade stepped out of bounds twice and finished 0.135 overall behind Lee.

Still, the color of the medal didn’t seem to matter.

“I wanted to shine in the best way possible,” she said. “And I think I shined.”

After the medal ceremony, she posed for selfies and goofed around with Lee and Melnikova. None of them had arrived in Japan feeling the gold medal was in reach with Biles in the competition, and they all seemed surprised they had even had a chance in the end following Biles’ withdrawal.

“Simone is incredible, and knowing how she had to leave the competition was very difficult,” Andrade said. “People need to understand that we are not robots. We are human beings, and we have feelings like anyone else. That’s the same with me. … We feel the pressure. But I tried to keep my cool. I tried to put into practice everything that I trained with my psychologist, and it worked. I did all that I could, and I couldn’t be happier with my performance.”

After so many challenges on the path to the podium in Tokyo, Andrade knew she didn’t get to the end result on her own. She credited all those who have been in her corner, every step of the way, for helping her achieve her dream.

“This medal is not just mine, it’s one for everyone that knows my story, everything I have been through,” Andrade said. “There have been so many people that helped me along the way. I am very grateful for having them around. I wouldn’t have achieved this without them.”

Neymar Leads Brazil to Victory Over Mexico at the FIFA World Cup

Neymar is makin’ his mark on the global stage’…

The 26-year-old Brazilian soccer star helped propel his national team into the quarterfinals at the FIFA World Cup by scoring the winning goal against Mexico.

Neymar

It was Neymar’s second goal at the 2018 World Cup, and his sixth overall in World Cup competition.

Roberto Firmino put it away near the buzzer to seal the 2-0 victory, ending a tournament for El Tri that started perfectly and ended horribly.

The talented Brazilians were by far the stronger team in the match, but Mexico had chances to make it more of a game. In the end, Mexico leaves Russia with consecutive scoreless matches. Brazil had 21 shots, 10 on frame, but a fantastic performance from keeper Guillermo Ochoa kept Mexico in it.

Mexico saw plenty of the ball in the box, recording 13 shots, but only one tested Alisson in goal.

With the match going back and forth, the winner came on 51 minutes off a stellar bit of play by Neymar. He got the ball to Willian, and the winger returned the favor in front of goal to open the scoring.

Brazil will next face Belgium in the quarterfinals.

Brazil finished fourth in the cup in 2014, but crashed out in the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2010.

Edinson Cavani Leads Uruguay to a 2-1 Victory over Portugal at the World Cup

Edinson Cavani is a double hero…

The 31-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer, a striker for Paris Saint-Germain helped propel Uruguay to a victory over Portugal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a 2-1 win in the Round of 16 match on Saturday, with 44,287 spectators cheering the teams in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Edinson Cavani

Uruguay knocked Portugal out of the tournament with a brace from Cavani (in the 7th and 62nd minutes), securing Uruguay’s place in the World Cup quarterfinals. Pepe scored for Portugal in the 55th minute.

The match was the third for the two national teams. Earlier, Portugal beat Uruguay in a friendly match and drew in the second one.

Rodriguez Wins FIFA’s Golden Boot Award After Being the Top Goal Scorer at the World Cup

World Cup 2014

James Rodriguez has the FIFA Wold Cup’s golden leg…

The 23-year-old Colombian forward was awarded FIFA’s Golden Boot award after being the top goal scorer at this year’s World Cup.

James Rodriguez

Rodriguez, who scored six goals in five games at the 2014 Brazil World Cup, celebrated along with his family following the end of the championship match where Germany edged Argentina 1-0 for the trophy.

Germany’s Thomas Mueller and Brazil’s Neymar won the silver and bronze boots for their respective five and four goals of the tournament.

Rodriguez is the first Colombian to ever win the prize.

“Thanks to God. All of you for the effort you made. And to my national team colleagues who made it all possible,” posted Rodriguez on his Twitter account.

Thanks largely to Rodriguez’s six goals, Colombia made it past the first two rounds of the World Cup for the first time in history before knocked out in the quarterfinals by host Brazil with a score of 2-1.

Messi Receives FIFA’s Golden Ball Award After This Year’s World Cup

World Cup 2014

Despite a heartbreaking loss in the World Cup final, Lionel Messi is still a golden boy.

The soccer star and captain of the Argentina national team was awarded FIFA‘s Golden Ball award as the best player of the FIFA World Cup after leading his team to Sunday’s final.

Lionel Messi

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who kept a clean sheet as his side beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time at the Maracana to claim their fourth World Cup, was awarded the Golden Gloves as the tournament’s top keeper.

“It is a sad prize that I won because we wanted to lift the trophy for Argentina,” Messi said of his consolation prize, as if the look on his face had not already said it all.

Four-times World Player of the Year Messi had a quiet game by his standards on Sunday but was the driving force behind Argentina’s push to their first World Cup final since 1990.

He scored four of their six goals in the group stage, set up Angel di Maria‘s winner in the last 16 against Switzerland and shouldered the burden of slotting home Argentina’s first penalty in their shootout win over the Netherlands in the semi-finals.

Messi also won four successive man-of-the-match awards against Bosnia, Iran, Argentina and Switzerland.

While some pundits thought Messi looked jaded after the group stage and did not influence his team as much, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said he was a deserving winner.

“I think Lionel reached the pantheon of the greats a while back,” Sabella told reporters. “Yes, I think he deserved it. He played a great World Cup to get us where he did.

“I think it’s very deserved.”

Germany forward Thomas Mueller was runner-up to Messi and Netherlands winger Arjen Robben was third.

France midfielder Paul Pogba was named young player of the tournament, while Colombia took the Fair Play Award after receiving just five yellow cards in five matches in Brazil.

FIFA also praised their positive play and the behavior of their players and officials.

Romero Saves Two Penalty Kicks to Help Argentina Reach the FIFA World Cup Final

World Cup 2014

Sergio Romero is the man of the moment…

The 27-year-old Argentine footballer has earned a hero’s welcome in his native country after his impressive performance in the penalty shootout after Argentina and the Netherlands were tied 0-0 at the end of extra time.

Sergio Romero

Romero, the goalkeeper for his team, saved penalty kicks by Holland’s Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder. Argentina’s Maxi Rodriguez put away the winning kick, sending Argentina to its first FIFA World Cup final in 24 years.

The last time a World Cup semifinal was decided by penalty kicks was 1998 when Netherlands played Brazil. Brazil won that encounter.

Argentina will face off against Germany in the final, which will be played Sunday in Rio’s Estadio Maracana.

This will be the third time Argentina and Germany will meet in the ‪World Cup final. Germany won in 1990. Argentina won in 1986.

Higuain’s Gorgeous Goals Puts Argentina into the World Cup Semifinals

World Cup 2014

Gonzalo Higuain has helped propel Argentina into the FIFA World Cup semifinals for the first time in 24 years.

Early in Argentina’s game against Belgium, the Argentinean footballer blasted a half-volley inside the far post on Saturday at Estadio Nacional to give La Albiceleste a 1-0 lead in the match.

Gonzalo Higuain

Higuain’s netting in the eighth minute gave his team all they would need to advance.

With the win, Argentina has advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1990 and further buttressing his reputation as one of the sport’s all-time greats.

In pursuit of its first crown since Diego Maradona’s 1986 squad, Argentina will face off against the Netherlands in Wednesday’s match in Sao Paulo.

“Argentina has gone a long time without doing this,” sais Lionel Messi, “and it was us who crossed the frontier.”

Navas & His Costa Rican Teammates’ World Cup Run Comes to a Close Against the Netherlands

World Cup 2014

Keylor Navas and his Costa Rican teammates came thisclose to pulling off one of the biggest ever FIFA World Cup shocks.

The 27-year-old Costa Rican footballer and his fellow Los Ticos teammates gave the Netherlands an almighty scare, keeping the Dutch scoreless, denying stars like Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder any glory at every turn.

Keylor Navas

The Netherlands may have dominated all but the first 20 of the 120 minutes of the intense game,  hitting the woodwork, reining in shot after shot and creatingchance after chance, but still couldn’t find a way past the Los Ticos goalkeeper, who has been the hero of his country and looks to be a major contender to win the Golden Gloves award for best keeper of the tournament.

But Costa Rica and Navas’ luck would eventually run out in the penalty shootout.

With seconds left in extra time and penalties looming, Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal made World Cup history by taking out his number one, Jasper Cillessen, and replacing him with Newcastle custodian Tim Krul.

Krul didn’t let his boss down, saving two of Costa Ricas’ penalty shots to ensure that his team advanced.

Navas had kept clean sheets against England and Italy, conceded only from the penalty spot against Uruguay, and had then produced a wonderful save in the shootout against Greece to ensure the outsiders’ place in the last eight. It will be scant consolation to him or his colleagues, but history will record that he kept a clean sheet again this time.

The Levante goalkeeper was at it again throughout this match where the men in orange held sway but simply could not find a way past the Tico keeper.

Navas made numerous saves, diving to his right, diving bravely at the feet of onrushing attackers, saving with his own feet: it seemed that however the Dutch tried to breach his goal they would not succeed.

The Netherlands’ win over Costa Rica set up a World Cup semifinal meeting with Argentina next Wednesday in Sao Paulo.

Shakira to Perform at This Year’s FIFA World Cup Closing Ceremony

Shakira is ready to la la la her way to Brazil for a record-setting World Cup performance…

The 37-year-old Colombian singer and former The Voice coach has confirmed that she’ll perform “La La La (Brazil 2014)” featuring Brazilian artist Carlinhos Brown at the closing ceremony of this year’s FIFA World Cup.

Shakira

Shakira’s track, which has been billed as this year’s official World Cup anthem, has spent six weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 53.

More traction is expected for “La La La” following Shakira’s performance, which will be her third consecutive appearance at the World Cup, a first for a musical act.

Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” feat. Freshlyground, was the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and she also performed “Hips Don’t Lie” at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Berlin.

“I have an intricate relationship with football for obvious reasons,” said Shakira, whose partner is Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique, with whom she has a son, Milan, who is featured kicking a soccer ball on the “La La La” video.

“For me the World Cup carries such a tremendous personal connection as well. This will be my third consecutive FIFA World Cup performance, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup changed my life forever — it’s where I began the love story of my life, and now have my son Milan as a result,” added Shakira. “For all of those reasons I just feel so grateful for the opportunity to come back to perform at the Closing Ceremony of this year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, it feels right. The fans have shown the most incredible support for this song and I can’t wait to perform it for them.”

Rodriguez Scores Two Goals to Lead Colombia Into Its First World Cup Quarterfinal

World Cup 2014

It looks like James Rodriguez is emerging at this year’s FIFA World Cup superstar…

The 22-year-old Colombian footballer scored a pair of goals to give Colombia a 2-0 victory on Saturday over Uruguay, earning his team its first-ever World Cup quarterfinal berth.

James Rodriguez

The Uruguayans came into the match at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana Stadium with a chip on their shoulder after Luis Suarez was given a nine-match international ban for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in Group D action Tuesday, but the loss of their star striker proved too much against Jose Pekerman’s talented squad.

Both teams started off the match at an unhurried pace, patiently looking to mount their attacks in the Round of 16 knockout match.

But when it seemed that the crowd of 73,804 might have to wait a while for the action to heat up, Rodriguez produced one of the most stunning goals of the 2014 World Cup in the 28th minute.

The play started with midfielder Abel Aguilar lofting a ball in the direction of forward Jackson Martinez, who was standing just outside Uruguay’s penalty area.

Uruguayan defender Maxi Pereira tried to clear the ball but it went back to Aguilar, who headed to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez proceeded to bounce the ball off his chest to give himself some space and then, without letting it hit the ground, fired a left-footed rocket from 25 yards out that hit the crossbar over the outstretched arm of net minder Fernando Muslera and ricocheted into the goal.

It was Rodriguez’s fourth goal of the World Cup and tied him for the tournament lead along with Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Brazil’s Neymar and Germany’s Thomas Müller.

But Rodriguez, who plays for AS Monaco in Ligue 1, wasn’t done yet.

Just five minutes into the second half, midfielder Juan Guillermo Cuadrado received a cross from defender Pablo Armero and headed it back across the box to Rodriguez, who knocked a right-footed shot into a practically empty net for his tournament-leading fifth goal.

Nearly an entire half of soccer still remained to be played but Uruguay, lacking Suarez’s firepower, was unable to cut into the lead against a well-organized defense backed by stellar goalkeeper David Ospina.

Next up for this history-making Colombian squad will be host nation Brazil, which topped Chile on penalties earlier Saturday.

That quarterfinal clash will be played Friday at Castelao Stadium in the northeastern city of Fortaleza.