Proud Manuel Won't Give Up Tokyo Bid Despite 100m Free Failure

Proud Manuel won't give up Tokyo bid despite 100m free failure

Omaha, United States, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 18th Jun, 2021 ) :Simone Manuel fought back tears Thursday as she described her battle to prepare for the US Olympic swimming trials and a chance to defend her historic 100m freestyle gold from Rio at the Tokyo Games.

Manuel didn't win that fight, finishing ninth-fastest in the semi-finals to miss out on a spot in Friday's 100m free final by two-hundredths of a second.

Just making it to the blocks, Manuel said, was an achievement to be proud of.

"I knew that every race I was going to have at this meet was going to be more of a challenge than it has in the past," said Manuel, who had struggled for weeks with fatigue and depression before she was diagnosed in March with overtraining syndrome -- in which an athlete fails to recover adequately from training and competition.

"I didn't even want to go to the pool because I knew it was going to be bad," Manuel said.

"Heart rate spikes, insomnia, depression, anxiety, sore muscles -- just walking up the stairs to the pool I was gassed." Manuel said the problems were piling up in January as she felt the toll of the pandemic and toiling through an extra year of preparations for the delayed Tokyo Games.

The 24-year-old, whose 100m free triumph in Rio made her the first Black woman to win individual Olympic swimming gold, also felt the weight of a year of racial reckoning in the United States, when the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis sparked the biggest civil rights protests in the country since the 1960s.

"Being a Black person in America played a part in it," she said. "This last year being a Black person in America has been brutal. That's not something I could ignore.

"That's just another factor that can influence you in a draining way." Dialing back her training didn't help, so in late March she took the drastic step of halting training altogether for three weeks -- with just 11 weeks to go until the trials.

"I wasn't doing any exercise, I went home and I spent time with my family," Manuel said.

Since she returned to training on April 17, Manuel said, her performance has been up-and-down.

Her semi-final time of 54.17sec was more than two seconds slower than her American record of 52.04.

"I haven't processed it quite completely," she said. "But one thing I have processed is I am proud of myself.

"I did everything I could possibly have done to set myself up to be my very best at this meet," she said, her throat catching again. "And that 54 -- I don't even know what the time was -- was as best as I could be today and in this moment."And Manuel hasn't given up on her Tokyo aspirations. She'll race the 50m free this weekend for a chance to improve on the 50m silver she won in Rio.

"I'm gonna go for it," she said.