The buzz at the Rio Olympics on Thursday was all about Simone Biles’ dominant gold medal win in the women’s gymnastics all-around competition. That is, until another American athlete named Simone dove into the pool to make Olympic history.
Simone Manuel, a 20-year-old Texas native who currently swims for Stanford, made history with her surprising win in the 100m freestyle, tying with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak to take gold and set the Olympic record with a time of 52.70 seconds.
The win makes Manuel the first African-American woman ever to win an individual swimming medal in the Olympics, and the significance was not lost on the sprinter as she emotionally celebrated after the win.
“It’s definitely been a long journey these past four years. I’m just so blessed to have a gold medal,” Manuel tearfully told NBC’s Michelle Tafoya after her race. “This medal is not just for me, it's for a bunch of people who have come before me and have been an inspiration to me.”
“And it’s for all the people after me, who believe they can’t do it,” she added. “I just want to be an inspiration to others.”
Manuel was cheered on by the entire U.S. swimming faction as well as the Rio Olympics’ favorite fan, Leslie Jones, who was in the stands for the event.
1st African American to win a gold in swimming!! pic.twitter.com/TueP8rnmep— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) August 12, 2016