Simone Manuel made history as the first African-American athlete to win a gold medal in an individual event in Olympic swimming last night. The 20-year-old also set a new record in the women’s 100-meter freestyle.
“The gold medal wasn’t just for me,” she told media after tying with Penny Oleksiak of Canada, for first place. “It was for people that came before me and inspired me to stay in the sport. For people who believe that they can’t do it, I hope I’m an inspiration to others to get out there and try swimming. You might be pretty good at it.”
Simone finished the 100-meter freestyle in 52.70 seconds during Thursday’s competition. She completed the routine 0.01 second faster than Australian swimmer Cate Campbell who set the Olympic standard at 52.71 earlier in the Rio Games.
Many were surprised to see Simone rise to the top since this was her first time competing in the Olympics. The young star was also pretty shocked. “My goal coming in was to get on the medal stand after seeing how I swam in prelims and semifinals,” she shared. “But getting a gold medal in my first Olympics, I still can’t describe it but I’m really excited about it.”
Watch Simone Manuel’s winning swim here!