Simone Manuel Speaks On The Importance Of Being Black And An Olympic Gold Medalist

Simone Manuel made history Thursday night (Aug. 11), when she became the first female African-American swimmer ever to win an individualized Olympic event. Manuel and Canadian swimmer Penny Oleksiak tied for gold in the 100-meter freestyle final (they both broke records finishing the race at 52.70 seconds.)

READ: Simone Manuel Becomes First Black Woman To Earn A Medal In Women’s Individual Swimming

After completing the race, according to ESPN, Manuel spoke with NBC about the importance of winning gold, and what she hopes the feat does for the black community. “I’m just so blessed to have a gold medal,” she said. “This medal is not just for me. It’s for a whole bunch of people who came before me and have been an inspiration to me…It’s for all the people after me who believe they can’t do it, and I just want to be an inspiration to others that can do it.”

While the 20-year-old is grateful for accomplishing a win, she doesn’t fail to realize the importance of just being recognized for her skills without having her race attached to the prize. In other words, she aims to be seen as just a swimmer regardless of the color of her skin—and not “Simone the black swimmer.”

READ: #BlackGirlMagic: ABC Makes History And Hires First Black Woman President

“It is something I’ve definitely struggled with a lot,” she admitted. “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.”

Still, she later discussed how she hopes her win can shed light on some of the issues that plague the black community—like police brutality. “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 in the world. I went out there and swam as fast as I could, and my color just comes with the territory.”

Here’s how some of the masses paid homage to Manuel on her win via Twitter: