By Sharon Robb
August 12, 2016—-It was a historical night Thursday at the Summer Olympic Games at Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Stanford junior Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic title in swimming.
Manuel, 20, tied Canadian 16-year-old Penny Oleksiak in the 100-meter freestyle for the gold in an Olympic and American record of 52.70.
“This medal is not just for me,” a teary-eyed Manuel said. “It’s for a whole bunch of people that came before me and have been an inspiration to me. It’s for all the people after me, who believe they can’t do it. And I just want to be an inspiration to others that you can do it.”
Both Manuel and Oleksiak knocked off world record holder Cate Campbell of Australia.
Phelps continued his remarkable journey in his final Olympic appearance. Phelps became the first swimmer to win an individual event in four consecutive Olympics.
Phelps won the 200-meter individual medley in 1:54.66 for his 22nd career gold medal. Japan Kosuke Hagino took the silver in 1:56.61.
Phelps also became the most decorated gold medalist in Olympic history. He broke a 2,168-year-old record set by ancient Greek athlete Leonidas Rhodes. Phelps now has 13 individual gold medals, breaking Rhodes’ record of 12 in the hoplitodromos he set in 164 BC.
In what was built up as a much-anticipated showdown between Phelps and longtime rival Ryan Lochte, never materialized. Lochte faded to fifth after leading midway through the race.
“As a kid, I wanted to do something that no one had ever done before and I’m enjoying it,” said Phelps, 31. “I want to finish my career how I want to, so that’s what I’m doing.”
Lochte, who had qualified in only one individual event, said he isn’t ready to decide about his future in swimming. He did say he was moving to California.
“I can’t say this is over,” Lochte said. “If anything, I think especially that race, it helped motivate me. There are a lot of things I need to change in the next four years if I want to come back into the sport. But for right now I think I need a break mentally and physically.”
Bolles alum Ryan Murphy of University of California at Berkeley won his second gold medal with a win in the 200-meter backstroke in 1:53.62 to extend the United States’ remarkable 20-year dominance of the event.
Murphy, 21, took the lead at the 100-meter mark and pulled away from the field.
“The 200 back is an event that I really have to dig deep for,” Murphy said. “That’s the one I wanted really bad.”
In one of the biggest disappointments, world record holder and defending champion Missy Franklin failed to make the final eight in the 200-meter backstroke. She finished in 2:09.74, nearly six seconds slower than her record time.
Franklin, 21, has struggled to regain her winning form of the 2012 Olympics. Franklin broke down and cried in the pool after the backstroke and was comforted by teammate Maya DiRado. In 2012, she won four gold medals and a bronze.
“I really wish I could tell you,” Franklin said. “In my mind, I made the hardest sacrifices I’ve ever had to make this year. I’ve poured myself into this every single day for the whole year and three years leading up to that. For whatever reason it’s just not happening at this meet. ”
DAY 7: FRIDAY
AFTERNOON SESSION: Noon, Women’s 50-meter freestyle heats; 12:38 p.m., Men’s 1500-meter freestyle heats; 2:28 p.m., Women’s 4×100-meter medley relay heats; 2:46 p.m., Men’s 4×100-meter medley relay heats.
EVENING SESSION: 9:03 p.m., Women’s 200-meter backstroke final; 9:12 p.m., Men’s 100-meter butterfly final; 9:20 p.m., Women’s 800-meter freestyle final; 9:44 p.m., Men’s 50-meter freestyle final; 9:56 p.m., Women’s 50-meter freestyle semifinals.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com