Olympics-Manuel sees gold as boost for black community

United States Simone Manuel celebrates winning the gold medal in the women's 100-metre freestyle

When Simone Manuel woke up Thursday, she was just another Olympic swimmer.

She did it! USA swimmer Simone Manuel made history at the Rio Games on Thursday, August 11, when she became the first African American woman to win gold in an individual swimming event. Her time of 52.70 seconds was an American and Olympic record.

Australia's Bronte Campbell, who qualified fastest for the final and set a world record in the event last month, was fourth in 53.02 seconds. "It's something that I carry but I hope that it goes away", she said. First Michael Phelps dominated the 200-meter individual medley, and then Simone Manuel tied for gold to win the women's 100-meter freestyle.

"It means a lot (to be the first black woman to earn gold in the pool)", Manuel said after the race. Upset in the first round in singles and doubles while battling a virus, the four-time gold medalist was a late entrant into mixed doubles.

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 break records.

Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Many pundits considered that the Australian Campbell sisters, Cate and Bronte, would top the women's 100-metre freestyle in Rio Thursday but the duo were displaced by an unexpected pair in the gold medal race. But after passing thru the prelims and semi-finals her concept changed, she told herself she wants to get on the medal stand and she made it. She spoke after the race about trying to defy expectations even as she attempted to make history.

An emotional Simone Manuel
An emotional Simone Manuel

"I think it took about five minutes to set in", she said. "I'm glad I can be an inspiration, but at the same time I would like there to be a day where there are more of us and it's not 'Simone the black swimmer'".

Earlier this week, Oleksiak won silver in the 100-metre butterfly and the 4×100 relay.

In the capital of Suva, fans packed the 15,000-seat National Stadium to watch the final of the Olympic tournament on a big screen.

Her brothers chose a different yet just as competitive sport: basketball.

On Wednesday, Oleksiak anchored the women's 4×200-metre freestyle relay team, where the 16-year-old and teammates Katerine Savard, Taylor Ruck and Brittany MacLean won the bronze medal.



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