Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Road to Rio: Simone Manuel and Lia Neal

image source. Simone Manuel. Photography by Tri Nguyen/The Stanford Daily
Image source. Lia Neal.
Alongside the hooplah of NBA Draft/Trade season, I love to watch athletes from around the world compete in the Olympic Trials, specifically in swimming. Each year around this time, all the joy of competitive swimming comes back to me, as my heart races to see who will make the olympic teams. This year, the world had a chance to witness-not one, but TWO-phenomenal black swimmers and teammates at Standford University, Simone Manuel and 2nd time Olympian, Lia Neal, earn their spot on the USA Olympics 2016 swim team. As I watched them both make qualifying times in their respective races, I was ecstatic, especially because I just know in my heart that more of us are coming to make our marks in the world of swimming. 

As I articulated in a previous post about Justin Lynch, I've been surrounded by black swimmers my entire life, so I never really understood the myth of "black people don't swim". However, in terms of a competition space as big as the Olympics, it is rare, so I get it. It's refreshing to see black athletes perform on a scale such as this. I was a little heartbroken that Cullen Jones didn't qualify this year, but I'm still very proud of every athlete who got out there and performed their hearts out; it's hard to not be inspired by all of it. People who have never played sports competitively fail to realize this, but it's a touch job to participate in sports on a serious level, especially on a global scale, so it's always really fun to watch and feel apart of. 

Congratulations to Simone Manuel and Lia Neal, as they head the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Wishing them and the entire team safe travels and much success. Bring home the gold!

image source. Margo Geer, Simone Manuel, Lia Neal, and Missy Franklin. Photography by Christophe Simon

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