- The Washington Times - Friday, August 12, 2016

Simone Manuel, who became the first black female swimmer to win an Olympic gold, said her victory Thursday night was particularly important to her because of the issues black Americans face today.

The 20-year-old swimmer took home the gold in Rio after tying for first place with 16-year-old Canadian Penny Oleksiak in the 100-meter freestyle. Ms. Manuel later said her win was extra special in light of ongoing race issues in the U.S., USA Today reported.

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

Ms. Manuel said she originally tried to distance herself from being labeled “the black swimmer” but said she has since embraced the idea of representing the community.

“It is something I’ve definitely struggled with a lot,” she said. “Coming into the race, I tried to take the 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.’

“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,” Ms. Manuel said.

“This medal is not just for me. It is for some of the African-Americans who have come before me,” she added, referencing former Olympians Maritza Correia and Cullen Jones. “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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