Simone Manuel Is First Black Woman To Win Individual Swimming Gold; NBC Criticized For Not Showing Her Medal Ceremony

August 12, 2016  |  

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“If you let a Black person into any sport, sooner or later, we’re going to dominate it.”

Those were the words of my fiancé after we watched Simone Manuel, 20, win the 100-meter freestyle yesterday. As I watched her tears of joy run, I could only think, “Ain’t that the truth” as I worked to stifle my own crying.

But Manuel’s win was about more than taking home gold — it was also a win, as she would point out in an interview after the race, for Black female swimmers before and after her. With last night’s victory, not only did the Stanford student break an Olympic record, tying with Canadian swimmer Penny Oleksiak, but she also became the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic event in swimming.

And you know the stereotypes out there about Black women and swimming.

It was a beautiful moment, too. Halfway through the race, Manuel was behind Australian Cate Campbell, and for a minute, it looked like she would stay behind her. But as the women pushed closer and closer to the finish during the heat, Manuel, feet kicking abundantly, raced past Campbell, as did Oleksiak, 16, with both women touching the wall at the same time. As Manuel turned to check the clock and saw she would be taking home gold, she let out a cry and the tears started flowing. Manuel and Oleksiak’s new Olympic record? 52.70 seconds.

“I definitely think it raises some awareness and will get them inspired,” Manuel said of her historical win and what it means for other Black female swimmers. “I mean, the gold medal wasn’t just for me. 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.”

Manuel also said that with all the instances of police brutality that have been making news over the last few months, she hopes her win can bring a feeling of hope to people.

“It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality,” Manuel said to 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 only disappointing thing about Biles’s win was that, according to reports, NBC didn’t show her medal ceremony until about an hour after it happened. And you know Twitter wasn’t having it. I’m not going to speculate on what that’s about, considering they went back to old individual all-around gymnastic’s footage and showed a less than stellar Russian gymnast falling during a dismount, but you can check out the ceremony here, in case you missed it. NBC would eventually play it around 12 a.m. and get a side-eye from quite a few people.

Anywho, congratulations to Manuel! Now it’s time for me to really stop playing with my limited dead man’s float and learn how to do a backstroke or something…

 

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