Simone Manuel reacts to winning gold medal at Rio Olympics (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Ross Houston
August 13, 2016

"The title "black swimmer" makes it seem like I'm not supposed to be able to win a gold medal or I'm not supposed to be able to break records and that's not true".

United States' gold medal victor Simone Manuel cries during the medal ceremony for the women's 100-meter freestyle final during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Gymnast Simone Biles of the US tears up as she poses with her gold medal. "I haven't thought much about the 100 at all".

How about: Simone, the Olympic champion.

Simone Manuel swam her way to a historic victory in Rio on Thursday, holding off world record holder Cate Campbell of Australia to grab 100 meter freestyle gold in a tie with Canada's Penny Oleksiak. After talking gracefully about her black role models in the sport, Manuel said she wanted to shed the label one day. I work just as hard as anybody else. "And it's for all the people after me, who believe they can't do it". She even mentioned "some of the issues with police brutality".

"It means a lot, especially with what's going on in the world today, just with some of the issues with police brutality", Manuel said. "This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory".

The race was the second time the event ended in a tie after the 1984 Los Angeles Games where Americans Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer tied for the fastest time at 55.92 seconds.


Carlo said the local BIA is part of a working group that has been formed to organize the special event, which will likely take place after the Summer Olympics which run until August 21.

Manuel will compete again later in the meet in the 50-meter freestyle and previously took silver as part of the 4x100 freestyle relay team. She helped the USA women's team to second in the 4x100m freestyle race.

Manuel, a 20-year-old from Sugar Land, Texas, hadn't come here expecting such a performance.

She stuck with swimming while her brother played basketball.

"Using the word prodigy to describe her", he says: "That is very accurate to what she is".

And she's in good company.

This win will stand forever, and so will your second-greatest accomplishment in Rio: Getting your roommate Katie Ledecky to do the whip.


USA Swimming described Manuel as a "powerful and gutsy no-limits swimmer". However, one newspaper chose to tarnish her historical moment by failing to mention her name and only focusing on her race.

After her win, Manuel said the "gold medal wasn't just for me".

By now, Manuel is at least partly aware of how her victory has resonated around her home country, in which African-Americans have few role models in the sport.

"To me, this win shows that black people are resilient and soar through adversity", she wrote in an email.

Today, there's a stereotype that many people, including some black people, subscribe to: "Black people can't swim".

As the youngest sibling and the only girl, Manuel has spent her lifetime sharpening her competitive streak.

"That helped keep the nerves off me", Manuel said.


"We were always encouraged to try what we wanted to do".

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