Manuel Makes History, Breaks Barriers with Gold Medal

8/11/2016

MANUEL MAKES OLYMPIC HISTORY, BREAK BARRIERS WITH GOLD MEDAL

BY: NAILAH ELLIS TIMBERLAKE//MULTICULTURAL & FOUNDATION COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER


8/11/2016

 

Simone Manuel become the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming with her win in the 100-meter freestyle during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. 

“This medal is not just for me, it’s for some of the African-Americans who came before me who have been inspirations and mentors to me,” said Manuel. “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 find love and drive to get to this point.”

One of Simone’s mentors is Olympic gold medalist, Cullen Jones who is the second African-American to win gold in the sport and is a World and American record holder.

“Simone’s performance during the Rio Olympics will be the first of many,” said Jones, member of the 2008 record breaking 4x100 relay with Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak and Garrett Weber-Gale. “It is a huge step towards changing the stereotype that black people don’t swim and Simone, Lia (Neal) and Reece (Whitley) are the future of black swimming and together will strengthen the foundation of our fight.”

Studies show that 70% of African-Americans do not know how to swim and in 2015, only 1.3% of USA Swimming’s 337,084 members were Black.

Maritza Correia McClendon is the first black woman to make the U.S. Olympic Swim Team and took home a silver medal during the 2004 Olympics in Athens. 
 
“I’m beyond proud of Simone for becoming an Olympic gold medalist. She has elevated to an international level and now the whole world will now know without a doubt that Black people swim…and we swim fast!” exclaimed McClendon, “Her historic feat just inspired generations of minorities to come.”

During her Olympic debut, Manuel upset world-record holder Cate Campbell of Australia and tied with Penny Oleksiak of Canada in an Olympic record time of 52.70 seconds. The last time an American woman won gold in the event was 1984, when Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer also tied. This is the first tie for a gold medal since Anthony Ervin and Gary Hall Jr. did it in the 50 free in Sydney in 2000.

“It’s been a long journey and I’m super excited where it has brought me but I think just hearing your National Anthem and knowing that you gave your heart into that race and you represented your country in the best way you know how,” said Manuel. “That meant a lot because it is my first individual win at an international meet and it felt great.”

“We are so proud as a country and as an organization of Simone's milestone,” said Chuck Wielgus, Executive Director of USA Swimming. “Her swimming ability is second only to her character and she is blazing the trail for swimmers of all races for generations to come.”

During her Olympic debut, Manuel upset world-record holder Cate Campbell of Australia and tied with Penny Oleksiak of Canada in an Olympic record time of 52.70 seconds. The last time an American woman won gold in the event was 1984, when Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer also tied. This is the first tie for a gold medal since Anthony Ervin and Gary Hall Jr. did it in the 50 free in Sydney in 2000.

 

As a freshman at Stanford University, Manuel set an NCAA, American, U.S. Open, Championship and Pool record when she clocked a time of 46.09 in the women's 100 yard freestyle and was one of the African-American swimmers took the top three finishes in a single event at the Women's Division 1 NCAA Championship in 2015. Manuel's Stanford teammate Lia Neal came in second place with a time of 47.13 and The University of Florida's Natalie Hinds swam a time of 47.24 besting her own school record.


Manuel has two events remaining at the Olympic Games in Rio – the 50m freestyle and potentially a leg in the 4x100m medley relay.


 


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