“The flame inside of me is still burning.”
Simone Manuel’s run at the Tokyo Olympics ended Saturday in the 50-meter freestyle semifinals, and even though she didn’t quite accomplish what she wanted after a challenging year, the two-time Olympian is proud of herself.
“I’ll remember this point in my career forever,” Manuel wrote in part on her social media channels. “Not the fact that I didn’t make the Olympic final or come home with an individual medal, but the fact that I gave it my all. That I didn’t give up.”
After winning the 100-meter freestyle gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games, 24-year-old Manuel qualified for this summer’s Olympics in one individual event, the 50 free. She was also part of Team USA’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay earlier this week and won a bronze medal.
Manuel — one of the most decorated swimmers in history — advanced to the 50 free semifinals and finished in a tie for sixth in her heat with a time of 24.63, but that wasn’t fast enough to advance to the final Sunday morning in Tokyo (and Saturday night in the U.S.). To give you an idea of how fast and competitive this event is, all 16 semifinal swimmers finished in the 24-second range, and the top-8 swimmers who advanced to the final are separated by just .23 seconds.
Below is the finish of the second 50 free semifinal, but you can watch the full video of Manuel’s race here.
That was Manuel’s last swim of the Tokyo Olympics, as she’s unlikely to be part of the remaining women’s 4×100-meter medley relay team on the final day of swimming Sunday morning in Tokyo.
And on social media, she posted a long, thoughtful message about her perseverance through a particularly draining year and how she views these Games as a victory for her, as the “flame inside of me is still burning.”
Posted on her social channels, Manuel — a five-time Olympic medalist with two golds, two silvers and a bronze — wrote:
“I’m in the midst of it, so I don’t quite understand it yet, but I know that God has a purpose and plan for my life. This may not be how I would have written my story, but I’m at peace knowing that God is the ultimate Author of my journey. He is always in control, and He always has much bigger plans for our lives than we can even imagine.
No doubt, I’ll remember this point in my career forever. Not the fact that I didn’t make the Olympic final or come home with an individual medal, but the fact that I gave it my all. That I didn’t give up. That I finished what I started. I faced adversity at every turn this year, and at times, I didn’t know if I would make it this far or if it was even worth putting myself out there to possibly fail. I didn’t reach my goals this time around, but I didn’t fail.
I can confidently say I’m a champion! Not because of the medals I’ve won but because of how I’ve consistently fought for what I believe in, my perseverance, and my fiery passion to always be me! I’m proud of Simone the 2X Olympian/5X Olympic medalist, but most importantly I’m proud to just be ME… Simone Ashley Manuel.
Time to rest up and heal my mind, body, and spirit! The flame inside of me is still burning, and I’m ready for whatever God has prepared for me next! ♥️
At U.S. swimming trials in June after Manuel didn’t make the final for the 100 freestyle, she opened up about her mental health.
She said she was diagnosed with overtraining syndrome in March and had been dealing with depression, anxiety and insomnia, which began to impact her physically this year. She also said the postponed Olympics adding another training year and being a Black woman in the U.S. were both taxing factors.
At trials, Manuel said she was proud of herself before she even dove in, and now that her Tokyo Olympics are over, she’s still proud. And it definitely doesn’t seem like she’s calling it a career yet.
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