Simone Manuel Overcomes Health Struggles To Qualify For Paris Olympics

by Gee NY

Simone Manuel has secured her spot on the U.S. Olympic swim team for the third time, marking a triumphant return after battling a debilitating illness that sidelined her from competition.

The 27-year-old Texas native clinched fourth place in the 100-meter freestyle final at the U.S. Olympic swim trials on Wednesday, June 19, securing her place on the relay team for the Paris Olympics.

Although she narrowly missed qualifying for the individual event by three-tenths of a second, the achievement was a significant victory for the five-time Olympic medalist.

“Being in this arena, and being surrounded by these fans, honestly has been so healing,” Manuel expressed to reporters at Lucas Oil Stadium. “To know that these people are just excited to see me swim again, swim at this level again, is something that’s really special.”

Manuel made history at the 2016 Rio Olympics as the first female Black athlete to individually win gold, dominating the 100-meter freestyle and earning three other medals.

However, her journey to the Tokyo Olympics was marred by challenges.

Shortly before the Games, she revealed she had been diagnosed with overtraining syndrome, a condition that drastically affected her ability to perform due to muscle fatigue.

In Tokyo, Manuel fell short in the 50-meter freestyle and returned home with medical advice to rest indefinitely, as reported by the Associated Press.

“It’s probably the most boring months of my life,” Manuel reflected on her time away from competitive swimming, during which she focused on recovery and processing her experience. “I really needed to process it and come to terms with everything.”

With resilience and determination, Manuel returned to the spotlight in Indianapolis, competing in front of a supportive crowd of over 22,000 fans.

“When I really think about how far I’ve come, and the mountain I had to climb,” Manuel remarked, “I think it’s really important for me to look back and be proud of myself for continuing to fight through this process and believe in myself.”

Simone Manuel’s journey is not just about athletic prowess but also about overcoming adversity and inspiring others with her resilience.

Her return to Olympic competition in Paris is a testament to her dedication and strength in the face of challenges.

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