Simone Manuel: 'All glory to God' after winning historic gold medal

by Michael Foust, Guest Reviewer |
Simone Manuel, left, celebrates after receiving her gold medal. | Reuters

RIO DE JANEIRO (Christian Examiner) – American Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to medal in an individual swimming event Thursday night, and then immediately gave "glory to God" during an emotional interview.

Manuel won the women's 100-meter freestyle, tying Canada's Penny Oleksiak for the gold medal with a time of 52.70 seconds – a new Olympic record. It was a comeback victory for Manuel, who appeared out of the gold medal hunt halfway through the race but passed several swimmers during the final 50 meters.

Asked what was going through her mind, Manuel told an NBC national audience as she fought back tears, "All I can say is all glory to God. It's definitely been a long journey these past four years. I'm just so blessed to have a gold medal ... I'm just so blessed."

No American had won a gold medal in the event since 1984.

Manuel said it "means a lot" to be the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming gold.

"[But[ this medal is not just for me. It's for a whole bunch of people who came before me and have been an inspiration for me," she said. " ... I just want to be an inspiration to others that you can do it."

Manuel, 20, is a college swimmer for Stanford and calls Sugar Land, Texas, her home. This is her first Olympics.

She has used her social media platform to share her faith. Her Twitter and Instagram bios both include "Phil 4:13," and a pinned Tweet – the first thing people see when they view her Twitter page – includes a letter to fans from July 3 which begins, "All Glory to God! Isn't He awesome! I am extremely blessed." It was written after she qualified for the Olympics.

Manuel's Twitter account also frequently quotes Bible verses. In early July, when five Dallas police officers were shot and killed, she re-Tweeted a Bible verse from Matthew 26:52: "Put your sword back in its place,' Jesus said to him, 'for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." That same day she wrote on Twitter: "The world needs prayer."