Third ACL injury will keep Rebeca Andrade out of Stuttgart Worlds

Rebeca Andrade suffered the third ACL injury of her career Friday in Rio. Photo: Brazilian Gymnastics Federation.

Rebeca Andrade suffered the third ACL injury of her career Friday in Rio. Photo: Brazilian Gymnastics Federation.

An ACL injury to her right knee will keep Brazilian star Rebeca Andrade out of this fall’s World Championships, but the 20-year-old has already vowed that she “won’t rest until I’m 100 percent again.”

Andrade sustained an injury to her right knee doing a 2.5 twist through to front layout full during a qualification for the Brazilian National Championships Friday in Rio de Janeiro. Though initially thought to be a sprain, an MRI showed damage to the ACL, according to a press release from the Brazilian Gymnastics Federation.

"She will need to undergo a surgical procedure and the technical staff, along with the medical team, are scheduling their return to training in about six months and competitions around eight months," said Brazilian Olympic Committee spokesperson Rodrigo Sasson.

“Unfortunately this injury happened, but be sure I won’t rest one day until I’m 100 percent again. I’m strong and confident that everything will work and the best is yet to come,” Andrade wrote on Instagram Saturday. “This is normal when the sport you practice requires a lot from your body and I was ready for everything.”

A healthy Andrade is one of Brazil’s best chances a medal at the World Championships and Olympic Games. She memorably won vault at last fall’s World Cup event in Cottbus, Germany, and posted a very competitive all-around score at the DTB Pokal Team Challenge in Stuttgart in March. Andrade had prepared a new floor routine to popular Brazilian funk piece “Baile de Favela (Favela Dance)” for the 2019 season. Before the injury on her third tumbling pass on Friday, Andrade had shown a full twisting double layout and a double layout.

The powerful Andrade is considered Brazil’s top all-around gymnast and part of the powerful 1-2-3 Brazilian punch of Andrade, Flavia Saraiva and veteran Jade Barbosa that lifted Brazil to fifth place in qualification at the 2018 World Championships, where they ultimately finished seventh. The team, currently overseen by Valeri Liukin, is easily expected to earn a team berth to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo at the World Championships this fall.

“We have already talked with our team of coaches and doctors to put the recovery plan together for Rebeca immediately after the surgery. Firstly, it must be stressed that she is very strong and confident in her recovery," Liukin said, according to the Brazilian Federation. "Rebeca is one of the most technically advanced gymnasts in the world today. The degree of difficulty that she performs in her series is very great. Many injuries occur under these conditions and she was injured for trying to do her best. We are very confident that she will return to compete at the same stage in which she is.”

Once considered a career-ending injury, a torn ACL is not as debilitating today thanks to state-of-the-art treatment methods. Andrade can already testify to this: she tore her ACL in 2015 and recovered to finish 11th in the all-around at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where she qualified fourth to the final. A second ACL injury kept her out of the 2017 Worlds in Montreal.

“The first time was very painful.” Andrade has said of her two ACL injuries, noting that the support of family, particularly her mother, has helped her in her toughest moments. “The next time I was already mentally prepared to what I was going to go through. When I talk to my mother it’s like everything is going to be all right. She says I have unwavering strength and faith.”

Blythe Lawrence is a sportswriter from Seattle. Follow her on Twitter @rockergymnastix.