STANFORD, Calif. In 2016 at the Rio de Janeiro Games, Simone Manuel became the first Black female swimmer to win an individual Olympic gold medal. Her freestyle technique earned accolades for its textbook form.
She cemented her dominance as a freestyle sprinter by winning seven medals at the 2019 World Championships, setting a record for female swimmers.
But at the U.S. Olympic trials for Tokyo, Manuel, 24, failed to qualify for her signature event, the 100-meter freestyle. She then revealed that she had been grappling with overtraining syndrome, whose symptoms include muscle soreness, weight loss and fatigue. She also said that being Black during a year of racial unrest had been mentally draining.
Manuel had one last chance to make the U.S. team. On the final day of the trials, she secured a spot, finishing first in the 50-meter freestyle.
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