Black girls are truly magic.
And Simone Manuel, a black American swimmer, just shattered all stereotypes and made a definitive mark in history.
Manuel became the first African-American female swimmer to take home the Olympic gold in an individual event when she finished the 100-meter freestyle at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics Thursday night, with a time of 52.70. That tied her with Canadian swimmer Penny Oleksiak, and with that time, a new Olympic record was set for both competitors, as well as a gold medal won for both.
Manuel was keenly aware of the importance of her historic win, and used her time and her platform to speak on the ongoing racial issues the United States grapples with.
“It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality,” the young swimmer said. “This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory.”
Manuel acknowledged that her race does carry a bit of weight, especially as a swimmer, given the stereotype that black people cannot or should not be able to swim well.
“It is something I’ve definitely struggled with a lot,” she said. “Coming into the race, I tried to take [the] weight of the black community off my shoulders. It’s something I carry with me. I want to be an inspiration, but I would like there to be a day when it is not ‘Simone the black swimmer.’
“The title of black swimmer suggests that I am not supposed to win golds or break records, but that’s not true because I train hard and want to win just like everyone else," Manuel added.
According to USA Today, when Manuel and fellow teammate Lia Neal were selected to go to Rio, it was the first time that black female athletes were chosen to be a part of the American swim team at the same time.
And, in case you want more of Manuel, she will be competing Friday in the 50-meter freestyle. She also already carried one medal, winning silver as part of the 4x100 freestyle relay team.
“This medal is not just for me. It is for some of the African Americans who have come before me,” she said, giving a nod to former Olympians Maritza Correia and Cullen Jones. “This medal is for the people who come behind me and get into the sport and hopefully find love and drive to get to this point."
Read more at USA Today.