Simone Manuel first African-American swimmer to win Olympic individual gold

ByABC News
August 11, 2016, 11:50 PM

— -- RIO DE JANEIRO -- Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic medal in swimming Thursday night, tying for gold in the 100-meter freestyle with?Penny Oleksiak of Canada.

Manuel and Oleksiak both touched the wall in 52.70 seconds, breaking the Olympic record by one-hundredth of a second.?Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom took the bronze in 52.99.

Manuel broke down in tears when she recognized her historic achievement in a sport that still has few African-Americans.

"I'm just so blessed to have a gold medal," Manuel, 20, told NBC after the race. "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 you can do it."

Anthony Ervin?is the only African-American male to win an individual Olympic gold in swimming. He placed in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2000 Olympics.?

Manuel, meanwhile, also became the first American to win gold in the women's 100 freestyle since 1984, when Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer shared first place.?

Manuel had to rally to get there.?

She was third at the halfway mark, but surged past?Australian Cate Campbell, who was on pace to take her world record even lower when she made the turn out front, with little sister Bronte right behind. But the Australian siblings, who teamed up to lead their country to gold in the 4x100 freestyle relay, couldn't hang on.

Bronte faded to fourth, and Cate dropped all the way to sixth at the finish.

Instead, it was Manuel -- her fingernails painted red, white and blue -- who touched at the same time as 16-year-old Oleksiak, the youngest swimmer in the field.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.