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U.S. Swimmer Simone Manuel Comments on Race, Police Brutality After Historic Gold Medal Victory

by Alex Ungerman 4:21 PM PDT, August 12, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

Swimmer Simone Manuel is putting her historic Olympic win into perspective.

After becoming the first female African American swimmer to win an individual gold medal in Olympic history on Thursday -- tying with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak in the 100m freestyle with a record-setting 52.70 second time -- the 24-year-old athlete candidly addressed the significance of her victory with regard to race in America.

RELATED: U.S. Swimmer Simone Manuel Makes History With Olympic Gold in 100m Freestyle

Photo: Getty Images

"It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality," Manuel said of her win, via USA Today. "This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory."

The significance was not lost on many viewers, some of whom recalled racist Segregation-era policies that kept black Americans out of swimming pools.

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Manuel said to BBC News that her win was for the "African-Americans who have been before me and been inspirations," and "the people who come behind me and get into the sport."

Cullen Jones, a male African American gold medal swimmer who competed at the London Olympics in 2012, praised Manuel after her victory, tweeting, "I am so proud of @simone_manuel First African American female to get a GOLD medal. Amazing #TeamUSA."

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After winning the gold, Manuel and U.S. gymnast Simone Biles -- gold medalist and All-Around competition champion in Rio -- celebrated their victories, as well as their mutual first name.

"Simone x2," Biles tweeted on Friday, adding a gold medal emoji to a selfie of the two Olympic champions.

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