We are happy to report that as an ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation, Manuel did not just talk the talk, but plans to swim the swim! She is helping provide free swim lessons to every student at I Promise during a week-long camp in June of this year.
Tears streamed down the face of Team USA’s Tianna Bartoletta as she collected her bronze medal in the long jump during the final days of the IAAF world championships last weekend. Having previously won gold in the event at worlds twice before, and being the reigning Olympic gold medalist at the long jump, Bartoletta has had better finishes, but she wasn’t crying sad tears. Her tears came from relief — that she could persevere and even succeed through even the darkest of times.
“[Y]ou may find it hard to believe but this Bronze medal is THE most special medal I have ever won,” the 31-year-old wrote on Instagram after collecting her hardware. “Because just three short months ago I had to run away from my own home, I had to decide which of ALL my belongings were the most important, I had to leave my dogs, I had little money, I still have no actual address, all to give myself a chance at having a life and the love I deserved — one that didn’t involve fear or fighting, threats, and abuse.”
Bartoletta shocked her fans, revealing that she’s been homeless for three months, while she escaped what she has alleged was an abusive marriage to her husband of five years John Bartoletta. (For his part, John Bartoletta has characterized the couple’s divorce as “amicable,” per the BBC.) “I took a huge gamble blowing my life up in such an important year for me career-wise. But it was about time for me to see that I was worth it,” she continued. “It was worth it. Thanks so much for riding with me.”
Not having a permanent address, however, was just one of the many obstacles Bartoletta had to overcome on her way to Worlds. On Wednesday, she opened up to the BBC about the effect her relationship had on her mental health. “I lost my personality,” she said. “I felt like I became a stranger to myself almost.” Bartoletta said she even thought about suicide. “It got so dark that I was contemplated walking off a train platform in front of a train in Europe last season because it just started to feel like I had no way out, no way out of the feelings of frustration and shame,” she said. “It was just so tempting to call it quits.”
Bartoletta told the BBC it took her a while to open up to people about how she was feeling, including family, but doing so put her on the path to feeling better.“This has been my therapy — sharing this story with you, sharing the Instagram post, blogging,” she said. “It has kind of been my way of healing.” Now she hopes to inspire others who might also be struggling. “The most important thing is you’re not alone,” she said. “[Depression] is a very difficult situation, it’s complex, it’s confusing and hard for a lot of people who aren’t in it to understand, but … I understand.”
Everywhere you look in these Rio Games, there’s #BlackGirlMagic making Olympic history.
Count Dalilah Muhammad as the latest.
On Thursday night, the 26-year-old New York City native became the first American in Olympic history to win a gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 53.13 seconds.Her teammate, Ashley Spencer, won the bronze medal with a time of 53.72 seconds.
article by Victor Mather and Lela Moore via nytimes.com
RIO DE JANEIRO — For anyone who doubted her after a subpar performance on the balance beam, Simone Biles sent an emphatic message on Tuesday: She is unbeatable in the floor exercise.
Biles bounced back from a bronze medal performance on the beam to dominate the floor, completing her Rio Olympics with four gold medals and the bronze. She is the fourth American female gymnast to win five medals in a single Olympics, joining Mary Lou Retton (1984), Shannon Miller (1992) and Nastia Liukin (2008).
Biles scored a 15.966 in the floor, considered her best event.
Her signature floor move is the Biles, a double layout with a half-twist and a blind landing. She performed the move nearly perfectly, adding a stag leap, which she had left out of her performance in the team event but included in the individual all-around.
Her score dwarfed those of her competitors. Her teammate Aly Raisman won the silver medal with a routine slightly less difficult than Biles’s, sticking every landing on every tumbling pass. The bronze medal went to Amy Tinkler, the first female gymnast from Britain to compete in a floor final.
Raisman earned her sixth Olympic medal and her third at these Games. She won the team gold and the silver in the individual all-around, behind Biles, who also won the vault.
Tuesday’s victory put Biles in an exclusive club. Just three female gymnasts before her — Ecaterina Szabo of Romania (1984), Vera Caslavska of Czechoslovakia (1968) and Larisa Latynina of the Soviet Union (1956) — had also won four gold medals in one Olympics.
On a pleasant Sunday night in Rio’s Olympic Stadium, Usain Bolt, the fastest human in history, became the first to ever win the 100-m sprint in three straight Olympic Games, finishing with a time of 9.81. Justin Gatlin of the United States, the 2004 Olympic champion, took an early lead but fell just short of completing his late-career comeback with another Olympic gold, taking silver with a time of 9.89. Canada’s Andre de Grasse won bronze in 9.91.
Even though he’s run the fastest 100-m in history––9.58 seconds, at the 2009 world championships––Bolt insists this is his weakest event. He has a funny way of showing it. “This is what I came here for,” Bolt said after the race. “This is the first step in the right direction. I’m happy and I’m proud of myself. It wasn’t perfect execution, but I got it done.”
The 100M, known as the fastest ten seconds in sports, was relatively slow by Bolt’s lofty standards. In 2012, the American Tyson Gay ran 9.80 and only managed to finish fourth. Bolt blamed the times on the quicker than usual turnaround, less than 90 minutes, between the semifinals and finals. “It was really stupid,” Bolt says. “I don’t know who decided that. I was really stupid.”
Whatever the pace, Bolt luxuriated in his victory. Fans screamed for him before the race. During his warmup, while his opponents were lingering at the starting line, Bolt jogged out about 30 meters down the track, turned around and held his arms up, soaking in the adulation as if he were royalty. He shimmied for the cameras, pointed, tried his best to be a showman. The act works.
When the starting gun blasted, Bolt knew he was off his game. “I kind of felt dead at the start,” he said. Gatlin took an early lead, but Bolt never panicked and passed him shortly after the halfway mark. The win in hand, Bolt pounded his chest before the finish. He grabbed a stuffed Olympic mascot afterward and paraded it around the stadium, mugging for selfies with adoring fans. As is his tradition, he hammed it up on the track with his “lighting-bolt” poses.
Bolt has always performed best on the biggest stages. And none are bigger than the Olympics, where he’s now won 7 straight golds, in 7 races, over three Games. He’ll shoot to go an incredible nine-for-nine later in the week, with the 200-m final Thursday night, and the 4 X 100 relay on Friday. “I really want the 200-m world record,” says Bolt, who set the mark, 19.19 seconds, at that same 2009 world championship meet. “If I can get a good night’s rest after the semifinals, it’s possible that I could. I’m going to go out there and leave it all on the track.”
The good citizens of Banana Ground, Manchester Parish, Jamaica, might still be partying in honor of their most famous resident, Elaine Thompson, now known as the world’s fastest woman.
Thompson, raised by her grandmother in that remote Jamaican community, ended the Olympic reign of her compatriot, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, with a strong and powerful performance Saturday in the women’s 100-meter dash. Pulling away over the last 30 meters from Fraser-Pryce — who won gold in the two previous Games — and from American Tori Bowie, Thompson won in 10.71 seconds before a joyful crowd at Olympic Stadium.
Bowie, a first-time Olympian, finished second in 10.83 seconds. Fraser-Pryce, she of the green-and-yellow hair dyed to show her Jamaican pride, won bronze with a time of 10.86 seconds.
Thompson, 24, wasn’t sure how to celebrate at the finish line, but she knows the folks back home rejoiced for her. “There is a big screen back home in my community in Jamaica. I can’t imagine what is happening there right now,” she said, smiling.
Fraser-Pryce, who was hampered by a toe injury and was in tears after her semifinal Saturday afternoon, said she was happy the Olympic title stays in the island nation. She didn’t want to discuss the injury other than to call this her greatest medal ever because she had to fight hardest. “I don’t want to take someone’s shine. This is Elaine’s time,” she said.
With two main goals already accomplished – gold medals in both the team competition and in the individual all-around – Simone Biles turned to the vault to grab more Olympic gold Sunday.
Going last in a field of eight gymnasts, Biles needed an average score of more than 15.253 to claim gold. She unleashed a soaring Amanar on her first vault, taking only a small hop backwards as she landed. Score: 15.900.
For her next vault, Biles turned to a Cheng — a difficult vault that, compared to the Amanar, is worth an extra tenth of a point on the judges’ scale — and performed it nearly flawlessly. Her score was the highest of the group: 16.033.
In the final, each athlete performs two vaults; the scores are then averaged. For instance, while Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber started strong with a 15.333, she scored a 14.900 on her second attempt, dropping her final score to 15.216. She held on for a bronze medal behind Maria Paseka of Russia.
As U.S. Gymnastics tells us, with today’s gold medal, Biles sets a U.S. record for the most gymnastics gold medals in one Olympics for a female athlete. She also becomes the first American woman to win gold on the vault.
“The Amanar consists of a round-off onto the springboard, back handspring onto the vault table and then a flip with two and a half twists in the straight body position. It’s the vault that McKayla Maroney made famous at the London Olympics and is worth 6.300 points.”
“The Cheng is worth 6.400 points. It consists of jumping onto the springboard, doing a half twist before pushing off the vault with your hands, then doing a flip with one and a half twists.”
Coming into this competition, Biles, 19, was also expected to face tough challenges from North Korea’s Hong Un Jong – the 2008 gold medalist in this event — as well as Canada’s Shallon Olsen, 16.
You’ve surely heard about it by now, and likely seen it too – U.S. gymnast phenomenon Simone Biles easily captured individual all-around gold at the Rio Olympics Thursday by out-performing the best of the world’s best and fulfilling what many felt was her long-awaited destiny. Teammate Aly Raisman won the silver and Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina took the bronze, repeating her finish in London four years ago. It was the second time the U.S. women went 1-2 in the all-around, having also done so in 2008.
But what I find to be challenging about the major media coverage of Biles beyond the footage of her feats (which I could watch all day every day) is how much it focuses primarily on three things: 1)her “humble beginnings” family story 2)how “girly” she is and 3) how she is preternaturally genetically gifted for the sport she so clearly dominates. If you need to see examples of any or all of this, simply turn on NBC to catch whatever package is running on her as they show the gymnastics competitions (I’ve personally seen the footage of her at the nail salon three separate times), go to nbcolympics.com, read pretty much any major newspaper’s feature on her (many with some tagline about what a “giant” the 4′ 8″ teen is), or heck, just click through the internet.
In addition to hearing about her once-in-a-generation, God-given talent or her twitter crush on Zac Efron, can’t we please hear, see, read and learn more about how Biles’ team crafts her routines to capitalize on her strengths? Or how exactly did she and/or her coaches come up with her signature move for the floor routine – the Biles? (Okay, I just found that one – it’s on inc.com – a business site!).
If I Google and scour a bit, I do find what I want – coverage of Biles’ discipline, work ethic and what kind of discrimination, if any, she faces as a black gymnast in a predominately white sport – like this very strong piece published in deadspin.com. I do believe, however, this should be the standard of mainstream media coverage on a sports superstar of Biles’ caliber, particularly from the official network covering the Olympics she is currently crushing. (Yes, it’s cute to see her dance to “Uptown Funk” with Hoda and reveal her and her teammates’ Kellogg’s cereal box on “The Today Show”, but c’mon Peacock – there is so much more to this athlete!)
Hopefully this weekend during the broadcast of the individual skills events, NBC will step it up – way up – because Biles surely will, and she deserves nothing but the best as she gives us all her best.
First and foremost, the headline above is the main story. Team U.S.A. member Simone Manuel made Olympic and U.S. history by becoming the first African-American female to win gold in an individual swimming event when she tied Canadian swimmer Penny Olesiak for first place in the 100-meter freestyle at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics Thursday night, with a time of 52.70. We congratulate her heartily, and are as proud as we can be of and for her.
According to theroot.com, Manuel used her time and her platform afterwards to speak on the ongoing racial issues the United States grapples with as she addressed the importance of her historic win.
“It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality,” the young swimmer said. “This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory.”
Manuel acknowledged that her race does carry a bit of weight, especially as a swimmer, given the stereotype that black people cannot or should not be able to swim well.
“It is something I’ve definitely struggled with a lot,” she said. “Coming into the race, I tried to take [the] weight of the black community off my shoulders. It’s something I carry with me. I want to be an inspiration, but I would like there to be a day when it is not ‘Simone the black swimmer.’
“The title of black swimmer suggests that I am not supposed to win golds or break records, but that’s not true because I train hard and want to win just like everyone else,” Manuel added.
The ensuing story surrounding this momentous event and its coverage has also been historic in its own right. Thanks to social media, the calling out of the faulty, biased reporting by the mainstream media on this unprecedented triumph has been equally thrilling to behold. Not only was NBC’s lack of coverage been taken to task by colorlines.com and scores of twitter fans, so has the San Jose Mercury News‘ initial insulting headline of “Michael Phelps Shares Historic Night with African-American” been dragged via a great Huffington Post article.
Personally, I am very satisfied to see a growing trend on speaking out against systemic racism in mainstream reporting and for apologies having to be publicly made and headlines re-written. Please click through the links above and enjoy the tweets and comments in their entirety.
In the meantime, I’m setting my DVR for Manuel’s next race tonight in the 50-meter freestyle to see if NBC, etc. can do better by this undeniable champion for the ages.