It is now official that due to the coronavirus, the 2020 Summer Olympics is postponed and will likely go on in 2021. That means some of our greatest competitors will have to wait to showcase their superior athleticism.
But we can return to the heroism of our best athletes in the last Olympics. History was made in July of 2016 at the Rio Olympics when Stanford University swimming teammates Simone Manuel (l) and Lia Neal (r) were named to the U.S. Women’s Olympic swim team. It was the first time two African-American women have represented Team USA in the swim competition for the Summer Games.
At the Rio Olympics, Manuel, a Houston, Texas native, would make Olympic history as the first African-American woman to claim individual gold by tying with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak in the 100M freestyle. Manuel set the American and Olympic records in the victory. Manuel also won gold in the 4 X 400 relay, and two silver medals. At the 2019 World Championships, she won six golds and one bronze medal, and currently holds three world records.
Brooklyn, N.Y. native Neal competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London for Team USA. She and the 4 X 100 Meter relay team took home the bronze medal during that year’s games. At the Rio Olympics, Neal took home a silver medal in the 4×100 relays and in 2019, she earned a silver for the same event at the World Championships.
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Neal, now 25, and Manuel, now 23, are no strangers to making history. In 2016, the pair were two of the top three finishers in the 2015 NCAA Women’s Swimming Championships. The third, Natalie Hinds, is also African-American.