TOKYO — Simone Manuel will make her first appearance at the Games on Sunday morning (Saturday night in the U.S.), swimming the anchor leg for the United States in the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay.
Questions had swirled about whether Manuel would swim in the event at all after she failed to qualify in her signature event, the individual 100 meter freestyle, at the U.S. selection meet in June. Her stunned expression after winning gold at the event at the 2016 Summer Games remains a lasting image from the event.
With her 2016 victory, Manuel became the first Black woman to win an individual Olympic swimming medal.
Her failing to qualify in the individual event for Tokyo was a shock, given that Manuel is the American record-holder in the event. Afterward, she revealed that she had been diagnosed with overtraining syndrome earlier in the year. Along with extreme fatigue, she had been experiencing depression and insomnia and had been required to step back from her normal, intense training routine.
Manuel did not swim for the Americans in the semifinal round of the relay event on Saturday morning, where they finished fifth. Australia, always a rival, finished first and was considered the favorite to take the gold medal in the event later this morning. The presence of Manuel, who will swim again in the 50 free on Saturday, may not change that.
Medals will also be decided today in the men’s and women’s 400-meter individual medley and men’s 400-meter freestyle.