Simone Manuel was at the center of the most exciting race of the Rio Olympics on Thursday, and by racing to a tie for gold she secured her place in history. Manuel touched the wall in a first-place tie in an exhilarating 100m women's freestyle race. By doing so, she became the first black woman to win an individual swimming gold medal and the first African-American woman to medal in swimming.
Just moments after stepping out of the pool, the significance of the moment was not lost on Manuel.
"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."
Even without the historical significance, the race would have been the race of the night thanks to the best finish you'll ever see.
Of course by becoming the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming gold, Manuel also became the first African-American woman to stand on the podium while the national anthem played after winning swimming gold. It was an incredible moment for an incredible athlete who at 20 years old is only getting started.
The Olympics are built around elite athletic accomplishments. But, truly they are about the people and moments just like this. Simone Manuel has her moment, and it's not one many will forget anytime soon.