Congrats to Simone Manuel! Thursday night, she became the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming.
The 20-year-old upset world-record holder Cate Campbell of Australia and tied with Penny Oleksiak of Canada at the Rio Games. She said,
I hope that I can be an inspiration to others, so this medal is for the people who come behind me and get into the sport and hopefully find love and drive to get to this point.
Manuel finished the race at the same time as 16-year-old Oleksiak, the youngest swimmer in the field. The Canadian became the first swimmer born in the 21st century to win a gold medal in any Olympic sport.
Manuel and Oleksiak shared the top spot on the medal podium, with the U.S. anthem played first followed by the Canadian anthem. Manuel stated,
It’s been a long journey and I’m super excited with where it has brought me.
It was the first victory by the U.S. in the women’s 100 free since 1984, when Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer also shared gold. During her remarks to the press, Manuel touched on the racial divide in the United States, mentioning
some of the issues with police brutality.
I think that this win helps bring hope and change to some of the issues that are going on in the world, but I mean, I went out there and swam as fast as I could and my color just comes with the territory. This medal is not just for me. It’s for some of the African-Americans that have came before me and have been inspirations and mentors to me. I hope that I can be an inspiration for others.
Congrats to her!