Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel is using her platform to speak out about racial injustices that she said make her feel excluded from the sport of swimming.

Despite all of her accolades, Manuel told CBS News she still feels ostracized and believes it’s because of “the climate of the world we live in."

"Sadly, there still is racism that exists," she said.

She said the sport "definitely has a long way to go when you're talking about diversity and inclusion.”

According to Swimming World, a 2014 report by USA Swimming found that only 1% of its athletes identified as Black. About 55% of athletes did not disclose their ethnicity during the survey.

A 2019 report about the organization found that of its 327,337 athletes, 0.6% of men and 0.8% of women are Black. About 34% of athletes did not complete the demographics section of the survey.

Manuel's parents hired a sports psychologist for her when she made the USA Swimming National Team at 15 because they knew the adversity she would face.

“I knew this kid was going to have to deal with a lot,” her mom, Sharron, told Sports Illustrated. “And a lot will be expected.”

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It truly makes me sad to hear stories of Black women deciding not to swim, pursue other sports, or exercise because of their hair. Historically, hair has been so important to the Black community, almost sacred, but I believe there is so much more that makes Black women beautiful besides our hair: our grace, our strength, our resilience. Ever since I was a little girl, my mom would always remind me, “It’s just hair.” That’s not to say that hair isn’t important to me, but it was just a reminder that my hair does not define who I am, but if I did let it define me, it could be a deterrent to me becoming the best version of myself. So, I encourage Black women to embrace and love your hair, but don’t let it stop you from living your life to the fullest!! You are beautiful regardless!! • • Tips for healthy hair while exercising- my weekly routine… • • Monday and Thursday: rinse and apply leave in conditioner Tuesday and Friday: Co wash and apply leave in conditioner Wednesday: Shampoo, Condition and apply leave in conditioner Saturday: WASH DAY WITH ALL THE WORKS! Best tip since my hair gets wet everyday is to Condition, Condition, Condition!

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