Simone Manuel Qualifies For Olympics Five Years After Making History At Rio 2016
The Olympic champion said she faced her "biggest fight" this year.
June 21, 2021 at 11:29 pm
"When I touched the wall, I was literally like, 'Please, God, please!'" the 24-year-old, who narrowly finished ahead of Abbey Weitzeil in Sunday's U.S. Olympic swimming trials, said according to ESPN. "More than anything, I'm relieved. Today may have been the longest day of my life and the longest 50 of my life."
The Olympic champion was heartbroken earlier this week when she failed to qualify for the final of the 100 free, the event she won in Brazil in 2016. And there was another setback for the swimmer in March when she was diagnosed with burnout, which forced her to suspend training for three weeks.
The gold medalist first felt symptoms in January when she experienced muscle fatigue, shortness of breath and an elevated heart rate, Yahoo reported. As her condition worsened in the following months, the swimmer also faced insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Manuel relied on her friends and family during the difficult time, opening up about her struggles and receiving encouragement.
"I definitely think sharing that information allowed me to swim more free," she said. "I have a lot of hard work in the bank."
After all the struggles, the star athlete finished with a time of 24.29 on Sunday to edge Weitzeil by one-hundredth of a second.
"This year has been difficult, especially the last couple months," Manuel said. "But before I dove in, I felt like it was my moment. And I'm so thankful for the blessings that God has given me."
Manuel, who already locked up a spot on the Olympic team with a victory in the 100 free, was ecstatic for her opponent.
"I told her before we walked out, 'We're coming out together,'" Weitzeil said. "During the race, I saw her right there. I was like, 'Yes! Let's go! C'mon!' That's what I was thinking the whole time."
Manuel said she's grateful for how far she's come.
"This year has been difficult, especially the last couple months," she said. "But before I dove in, I felt like it was my moment. And I'm so thankful for the blessings that God has given me."