RIO DE JANEIRO (CBS/AP) — RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Simone Manuel leaned her head into her hands and broke down in tears when she recognized her historic achievement.
With her victory in the 100-meter freestyle, she became the first African-American woman to capture an Olympic gold medal in swimming.
Manuel tied with 16-year-old Penny Oleksiak of Canada, both of them knocking out world-record holder Cate Campbell.
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“I hope that I can be an inspiration to others so 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,” Manuel said.
The 20-year-old hails from Sugar Land, Texas and attends Stanford University.
Campbell was on pace to take her world record even lower when she made the turn out front, with little sister Bronte right behind her. But the Australian siblings couldn’t hang on.
Bronte faded to fourth, and Cate dropped all the way to sixth at the finish.
Instead, it was Manuel — her fingernails painted red, white and blue — who touched at the same time as Oleksiak, the youngest swimmer in the field.
When she looked up to the scoreboard and saw a tie for gold and an Olympic-record time of 52.70 seconds she looked shocked.
Manuel broke down in tears when she recognized her historic achievement as an African-American.
“I think that this win helps bring hope and change to some of the issues that are going on in the world, but I mean, I went out there and swam as fast as I could and my color just comes with the territory,” Manuel said.
Until now, Cullen Jones had been the face of swimming for minorities in America, having won two golds and two silvers at the last two Olympics.
But Jones failed to make the U.S. team this year in what could have been his final attempt.
Manuel, who attends Stanford and has a brother who played basketball at SMU, was there to pick up the torch for African-American swimmers.
“I’m super glad that I can be an inspiration to others and hopefully diversify the sport,” she said “But at the same time, I would like there to be a day where there are more of us and it’s not like ‘Simone, the black swimmer,’ because the title ‘black swimmer’ makes it seem like I’m not supposed to be able to win a gold medal.”
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