Simone Manuel made history in Rio after becoming the first African-American female to win gold in an individual Olympic swimming event.
She was overcome with tears after winning the gold in 100-meter freestyle on Thursday.
“I'm just so blessed to win a gold medal, just so blessed,” she told NBC after her historic victory. “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."
Manuel, 20, and Canada’s Penny Oleksiak, 16, tied for the fastest time – 52.7 seconds -- setting an Olympic record for the women’s 100-meter freestyle.
Following the race, Manuel tweeted: “It is an honor to represent the USA!”
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
Following her victory, Manuel told reporters that she hopes one day people will focus on her and not her race.
"I would like there to be a day where there are more of us and it's not 'Simone, the black swimmer,''' she said. "The title 'black swimmer' makes it seem like I'm not supposed to be able to win a gold medal or I'm not supposed to be able to break records and that's not true because I work just as hard as anybody else. I want to win just like everybody else.''
Fellow gold medal swimmer Katie Ledecky, who is roommates with Manuel in the Olympic Village, tweeted big congratulations to her friend.