If you know me, you know I’m an avid sports watcher. The only two sports you probably wouldn’t see me watch and be enthused about is golf and basketball. Golf is because I think it’s overly boring. Basketball is because I think the players are crybabies.
But that’s neither here nor there.
I have been watching the Olympics as long as I can remember, and was even supposed to go to Rio de Janerio for the 2016 Olympics for at least a week to be a live spectator. Of course that didn’t happen, because zika. And also: money.
So, alas, I’m stuck watching and live streaming the games from home. I first began live streaming at work this past Tuesday with the finals of the Women’s team gymnastics. I couldn’t wait until NBC Olympic Primetime to see this dynamic group show what they’re made of and I was glad I didn’t wait. They first blew away the competition in the qualifiers two days prior but absolutely killed the game in the finals, taking the gold and leaving the other teams to snack on their dust.
The Final Five. Picture taken from NBCOlympics.com.
Y’all? Y’all. This team won by a margin of a little over eight points. That is like a football team winning a game by a margin of six touchdowns. CRAZY. And what makes it even better is how absolutely diverse this team is. I mean, this team was anchored by gymnastics great Simone Biles, who is probably the greatest gymnast to ever walk this earth.
As if Black girls everywhere couldn’t feel any better about themselves, having two black girls just make history for US gymnastics, on Thursday night our awesomeness stretched to both the Olympic pool and back to the Gymnastics center.
At 3 pm EDT the top 24 gymnasts in the world competed for the chance to call themselves Olympic All-Around champion. Led by Biles, the two-hour long program consisted of sit-on-the-edge-of-your-chair and pearl-clutching moments. As the very last gymnast to complete the all-around, Biles took her time and blew the competition away with her floor routine, finishing more than two points in front of second place.
To really put that in perspective, Biles finished with a larger lead than all the Olympic All-Around champs from 1980-2012 COMBINED. That’s just super human.
Girl. Yes. YES. Picture by: The Chicago Tribune.
After that display of sheer dominance in a sport where, just four years ago, was lilly white, you would think there would be no way things could get any better for black women in these Olympics.
In comes underdog Simone Manuel, who wasn’t even on anyone’s radar to medal, let alone swim the fastest time, take home a gold medal in the 100m freestyle event AND still be humble about the entire experience. Talking to Michelle Tafoya a few minutes after tying with Canadian Penny Oleksiak for the gold medal, Manuel had this to say:
“I hope that I can be an inspiration to others, so this medal is for the people who come behind me and get into the sport and hopefully find love and drive to get to this point.”
Yes, girl. You did that! Picture via: The Chicago Tribune.
I was tearing up as Manuel was tearing up, because this is such a pivotal moment in the sport of swimming. I know that race shouldn’t matter all the time, but as a black woman living in a time where we are most definitely not safe, this is a beautiful sight. As many black people on Twitter pointed out, just this time last year a bunch of kids were beat up and manhandled by police officers for partying at a community pool because concerned white neighbors believed these kids had broken into their community when they were actually invited to a pool party.
Even though these two beautiful, black ladies worked hard for their respective titles, and probably never thought that they would become a symbol for black women in America, they certainly have. These two have left black woman stereotypes standing on it’s head. The Simones have shown America how fierce we black women can be with a little determination, a lot of confidence and tons of support. We are unstoppable. We are magical.
It’s so lit.