Committed Christian swimmer Simone Manuel set an Olympic record yesterday and became the first African American woman to win an individual gold medal in the sport.
The 20-year-old from Sugarland, Texas, won the gold in the 100m freestyle event, tying with the Canadian swimmer Penny Oleksiak in a photo-finish end to the race. The time of 57.20 seconds breaks the previous Olympic record, though it is only Manuel's first Olympic Games.
In an emotional press interview following the race, she praised God for her victory. "All I can say is all glory to God. It's definitely been a long journey these past four years," reports the Christian Examiner. "I'm just so blessed to have a gold medal ... I'm just so blessed."
It is an honor to represent the USA! God is working in me! I am so blessed and grateful. Thank you all so much for your support.— Simone Manuel (@simone_manuel) August 12, 2016
She has previously won a silver medal in a relay race, and said that she had not expected an individual gold. "Coming into my first Olympics I didn't think I was going to be getting a gold medal individually, my goal was just to get more experience, swim as fast as I can," said Manuel, according to The Guardian. "And after prelims and semi-finals and seeing where I was sitting, when I came in tonight I was like, 'I want to get on that medal stand'. Just surpassing that goal and getting an American record on top of a gold medal is super exciting for me."
She added that she thought the win was significant in the current political climate in the USA. "It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality," Manuel said. "This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My colour just comes with the territory."