Twenty-year-old Simone Manuel became the first African-American female swimmer to take gold in an individual event on Thursday night.
The native of Sugar Land, Texas, who attends Stanford University, “surged home in the final half of the second lap to finish in a time of 52:70,” reports USA Today.
She said her victory was important in the context of ongoing race issues in the U.S., writes the news outlet.
“It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality,” Manuel said, writes 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 New York Times notes that several black swimmers have won Olympic medals for the United States, including Maritza Correia, a member of the 400-meter freestyle relay team that won silver at the 2004 Athens Games, and Lia Neal, a Brooklyn native, who won a bronze in a relay at the 2012 London Games and a silver in a relay here at the Rio Games. Additionally, Anthony Ervin and Cullen Jones, who are black, have won Olympic gold medals.
Three black coeds swept the 100 yard freestyle the 2015 Women’s Division I NCAA Championship this weekend—making history, reports NBC blk. The two top spots fell to Stanford teammates, while third place went to a University of Florida student.
Manuel’s Stanford teammate Lia Neal came in second place with a time of 47.13. (Fans may recall that Neal won a bronze medal in the 4×100 free relay at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.)
The University of Florida’s Natalie Hinds swam a time of 47.24. Hinds reset her own-school record in the event during competition.
— Rowdy Gaines (@RowdyGaines) March 22, 2015
— USA Swimming (@USASwimming) March 24, 2015
In an interview today with USA Swimming, Manuel said she “really didn’t think about” the significance of the three black women at the podium togehter.
“I didn’t really think about it…I always thought it would be cool to go 1-2 with Lia, because she’s my teammate and we’re so close, but I hadn’t thought about Natalie or what all three of us could do together. That hadn’t occurred to me until later when everyone was so excited about it.”