On August 11, 20-year-old Texas native, and now Olympic champion, Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman in Olympic history to win an individual gold medal in swimming at the Rio Olympics. Manuel shared the victory with Canada’s 16-year-old swimmer, Penny Oleksiak, with both of them finishing at an Olympic record time of 52.70 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle final.
A first place victory was not expected of Manuel who was in the pool with athletes such as Cate Campbell, an Australian swimmer with several world records to her name. While Campbell was in the lead for the first 50 meters, her performance waned in the latter half of the race. Manuel and Oleksiak overtook Campbell and reached the pool wall simultaneously, tying for the honor of gold.
Manuel’s victory is not just her own. Her gold medal is for all the African-American swimmers who preceded her, paving the path for others, and for all of those who will come after her. Several media outlets quoted Manuel as saying, “I’m super glad with the fact that I can be an inspiration to others and hopefully diversify the sport.”
Simone Manuel is an inspiration to the black community and anyone who believes their dreams are unattainable due to any boundaries imposed upon them. Her gold medal speaks for itself.