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Simone Manuel becomes the first African-American female swimmer to win gold at the Olympics.
EPA/Esteban Biba
Making history.
MAKING WAVES

Simone Manuel is the first African-American woman to win an Olympic individual swimming medal

By Isabella Steger

Simone Manuel tied with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak to win gold in the 100-meter freestyle event at the Rio Olympics on Thursday night (Aug. 11).

The 20-year-old Texan, currently studying at Stanford University, clocked in at 52.70 seconds, a new Olympic record. She also took the opportunity to recognize the historical significance of what she had just achieved.

“I’m just so blessed to have a gold medal,” Manuel said to NBC in an interview post-race. “This medal is not just for me. It’s for a whole bunch of people who came before me and have been an inspiration to me… It’s for all the people after me who believe they can’t do it and I just want to be an inspiration to others that you can do it.”

Last year, Manuel’s mom Sharron Manuel told the Washington Post that Simone had questioned why there were so few African-Americans taking part in her swim meets.

Cullen Jones, an Olympic gold medalist and second African-American ever to win a gold medal in swimming in Beijing in 2008, showed his support on Twitter.