“I think I've now seen it all,” NBC analyst Rowdy Gaines, who indeed has pretty much seen everything there is too see in the swimming pool. He can add one more thing to that list.
Minutes after Michael Phelps' stunning win in the 200 IM, the Olympic swimming venue showed there were more surprises in store when the 100 freestyle final finished in an out-of-nowhere tie by Simone Manuel of the U.S. and 16-year-old Penny Oleksiak of Canada. Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual medal for the United States and the first American to win the 100 free since the boycotted 1984 Games.
When asked about her historic feat, a breathless Manuel was able to put it all in perspective rather quickly.
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“[This gold] is not just for me it's for a whole bunch of people who have come before me and have been inspiration to me. It's for [former relay gold medalist] Cullen [Jones] and for all the people after me who believe they can't do it. I just want to be an inspiration to others to show that you can do it.”
Neither Manuel nor Oleksiak were expected to medal in the race and, 75 meters through, that appeared like it'd be the case. The Campbell sisters – Cate and Bronte – of Australia were the heavy favorite to take home gold and silver along with longtime Olympic stalwart Sarah Sjostrom.
The first gold-medal tie in Olympic history happened in the aforementioned 100 meters in 1984 when Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer shared the top of the podium. American teammates Gary Hall Jr. and Anthony Ervin tied for the gold in the 50 freestyle in Sydney.
Oh, and if all that wasn't enough, the women's time broke the Olympic record.