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US Olympic Swimming Trials 2021: Simone Manuel fails to qualify for Tokyo Olympics 2020 in 100m due to mental health issues

Simone Manuel reacts after failing to make the cut in the 100m freestyle for Tokyo Olympics
Simone Manuel reacts after failing to make the cut in the 100m freestyle for Tokyo Olympics

Celebrated US swimmer Simone Manuel will not be defending her 100m freestyle gold at the Tokyo Olympics after she failed to make the cut for the 100m finals at the US Olympic Swimming Trials 2021 on Thursday.

Simone Manuel finished ninth in the semifinals with a time of 54.17, missing out on the last and final qualification spot by 0.02 seconds. Erika Brown finished eighth with a timing of 54.15 seconds.

The 50m freestyle event is now the American swimmer’s only chance of making it to the Tokyo Olympics. She won the silver medal in the 50m freestyle event in the 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro and a gold medal in the 2019 World Championship. At the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Simone Manuel made history when she became the first African-American woman to win a swimming gold medal.

Read: Why aren't there enough black swimmers in the US?

Missing the 100m final also means that Simone Manuel will not be a part of the US relay team in which the swimmer is usually the relay anchor.

Simone Manuel is battling an overtraining syndrome

Post the disappointment in the pool, Simone Manuel revealed that she was down with ‘overtraining syndrome’.

Simone Manuel shared that she has been battling mental health issues ever since the start of the year. In the first two months of 2021, Manuel had difficulties in maintaining a balance in her life and consequently was diagnosed with “overtraining syndrome” in March. It affected her mentally and she took time off from training in April to concentrate on her fitness and mental health.

Also read: Regan Smith wins 100m back, books first Olympic berth

The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped Simone Manuel either. Racial discrimination, which rocked the United States last year, also played its part in denting Simone Manuel’s mental health. The swimmer admitted to being “drained out” due to these factors and the overtraining syndrome amplified her battle.

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Simone Manuel was back in the pool in May and immediately showed glimpses of regaining her past form when she clocked 53.8 in the 100m freestyle.

For now, Manuel’s focus is on the 50m freestyle event. However, in case she fails to qualify, the celebrated swimmer is ready to be “off the pool” for months to help herself get back into a good mental shape.

Also read: Michael Phelps physically ready to compete in another Olympic Swimming Trials

The swimmer had already started working on her mental health prior to the US Olympic Trials 2021. Given her attitude, Simone Manuel was someone who would not want to rest on her laurels and instead focus on achieving more.

However, she has started to embrace herself better and is proud of her achievements and how strong she has been to get to where she is now. The fight against her mental health demons is set to be a long journey.

For the record, Simone Manuel is the American record holder in the 100m free with a time of 52.04, which is also the third-best timing in the world.

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Edited by Diptanil Roy
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