Olympians inspire through historic performances


Photo Courtesy of Mark Reis/Colorado Springs Gazette/TNS

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

The Olympics are a time when greatness happens: Records are broken, medals are won and the best athletes in the world compete against each other.

Simone Manuel, Simone Biles and Michelle Carter made history not only for the United States, but for black women across the globe at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last weekend.

Last Thursday, Manuel became the first African-American swimmer to win an individual swimming event medal. She swam an Olympic record of 52.70 in the women’s 100m freestyle and tied for gold. Manuel also took home gold in the women’s 4x100m medley relay, coming in at first place at 3:53.13 and earned two silver medals in the women’s 20m freestyle and women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, with times of 24.09 seconds and 3:31.89, respectively.

In a world where the stereotype “black people can’t swim” prevails, this was a huge accomplishment for Manuel, who stated in a post-competition interview, “The gold medal wasn’t just for me. It was for people that came before me and inspired me to stay in the sport. For people who believe that they can’t do it. I hope I’m an inspiration to others to get out there and try swimming. You might be pretty good at it.” Manuel represented black women across the nation and let them know that nothing is impossible.

Biles made history as well, becoming the first United States gymnast to win four gold medals in one Olympic game. Biles took home gold in the team competition, the individual all-around competition, the vault, and floor exercise. Afterward winning her third gold, Biles tweeted a simple yet strong statement: “dreams DO come true.”

This is Biles’ first Olympic game, as she was too young to compete in the 2012 London Games, but she has made quite the name for herself. Before the Olympics, Biles became the first female gymnast to win three consecutive all-around World Championships. She is the most decorated U.S. women’s gymnast in history, holding 19 World and 4 Olympic gold medals, according to USA Gymnastics. Biles’ stellar performances in the Olympics are no surprise, considering that she has silently been making history for the past three years.

Last, but surely not least, Carter became not only the first American woman to medal in shot put since 1960, but the first to win gold. She also broke the American record in the event, throwing a 20.63 m/67-8.25. Carter is also the team captain for the U.S. Track and Field team.

These three women have not only achieved greatness and claimed the highest awards possible, but have also been an inspiration to millions of women and girls across the world, especially black women. They have broken down barriers that not many black women have overcome before. They showed us that limits are not real and that any barrier can be broken down.

As a black woman, this inspired me to set higher goals for myself, giving me even more motivation and reassurance that I always have “more in the tank,” as Carter stated after her win, to achieve whatever I want to do as well.

It also made me proud to be a black woman and see a person the same color as me accomplish their ultimate dream on the highest stage. Thank you Manuel, Biles and Carter for giving women around the world that extra push and letting them know that they can do anything.