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The Stanford University student became the first African-American woman to take home the gold in an individual swim event.
Shortly after making history, Olympic gold medal winner Simone Manuel spoke to reporters about her historic win and also spoke out about race and police brutality.
USA Today reports that the Olympian acknowledged that her win was important in the context of current events. “It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality. This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory.”
Manuel became the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in an individual swim event, tying with Canadian Penny Oleksiak, and setting a record time of 52.70 seconds.
Manuel also gave the US its first gold medal in the women’s 100-meter freestyle in 36 years.
Leading up to the event Manuel says she tried to focus on the race and not the significance of the event. “It is something I’ve definitely struggled with a lot. Coming into the race I tried to take 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,” she said, “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.”
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Manuel also took home sliver as part of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay team and will compete again later in the 50-meter freestyle. “This medal is not just for me. It is for some of the African-Americans who have come before me. 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.”
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