RIO de JANEIRO — Simone Manuel burst into tears.
Many other Americans did too when the Stanford swimmer made Olympic history on Thursday night as the first African-American woman to win an individual medal in swimming, a gold medal nonetheless.
Manuel, who is a rising junior on The Farm, set an Olympic and American record to tie for the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle. The Sugar Land, Texas, native stopped the clock at 52.70 — simultaneously with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak.
“It means a lot [to be the first black woman to earn gold in the pool],” Manuel said after the race. “I mean, this medal is not just for me. It’s for a whole bunch of people that came before me and have been an inspiration to me. Maritza [Correia], Cullen [Jones], and it’s for all the people after me, who believe they can’t do it. And I just want to be inspiration to others that you can do it.”
An inspiration to so many.
Congrats, Simone! pic.twitter.com/XuS4SOBiRg
— Stanford W. Swimming (@stanfordwswim) August 12, 2016
The seven-time All-American at Stanford is competing in her first Olympics and also earned silver as a member of the USA’s 400-meter freestyle relay team.
Manuel qualified for the 100 free finals on Wednesday when she was second overall in the prelims with a time of 53.32, and then finished first in the semifinals at 53.11.
In all, Stanford swimmers have accumulated 10 medals in six days at the Rio Olympic Games, and the group still has several chances to add to that total. Incoming freshman Katie Ledecky will compete in the 800-meter freestyle and Maya DiRado ’14 swims in the 200-meter backstroke finals on Friday night, while diving also starts Friday for Kassidy Cook.