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List of black Olympians grows as Rio gets closer

Allyson Felix, Justin Gatlin, Simone Manuel and Lia Neal headline list from track, swimming trials

The weekend could not get any better for black women in sports.

On Sunday, gymnasts Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas secured their spots on the Rio 2016 women’s gymnastics team, making this a first for the three-time defending world champion Biles, and second for Olympic gold medalist Douglas.

“I don’t think there’s a good enough word to describe the feeling besides if there’s anything happier than happy and relieved,” said Biles.

And it wasn’t just gymnastics that women were ruling.

In track & field, 16-year-old Sydney McLaughin became the youngest athlete to qualify for the Olympics U.S. track team since 1972.

“Sometimes, I just forget that I’m 16,” McLaughlin said in an interview with NBC Sports. “There’s not as much expectation. You know, I don’t get paid for this. I’m here just for fun.”

Joining her in the women’s 400-meter hurdles are teammates Dalilah Muhammad and Ashley Spencer.

Headlining the list of black athletes to make the cut in track and field and swimming two weekends ago was Allyson Felix, Justin Gatlin, Simone Manuel and Lia Neal.

Felix, who will be running in the 400 meters, won three gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games in the 200 meters, 4-x-100 meter and 4-x-400 meter relays. What’s most impressive is not only did she win 75 percent of the events she participated in, she did so on a severely sprained ankle.

Gatlin, in his fourth Olympics, is chasing world-record holder Usain Bolt in the 100 meters. The 34-year-old won gold in the 100 at Athens in 2004, served a four-year ban from 2006-10 and has watched Bolt take the last two 100-meter gold medals. Gatlin’s 9.80 seconds is the best time in the world for the 100 this year.

For the first time in U.S. Olympic history, there will be two black women swimming on the national team at the same time. The pair, Manuel and Neal, also happen to be teammates at Stanford University. For Neal, 21, this is the second time she’s qualified for the games, and the hope is that she’ll be able to improve upon her bronze finish in the 4-x-100 meter relay in 2012. Before Manuel, 19, stepped away from Stanford swimming to train for Rio de Janeiro, she took home first place in the 100-yard freestyle during the 2015 women’s NCAA swimming championships.

These are people who have qualified for the U.S. national team. As more names are announced, they will be added to our list.


Women’s Gymnastics: Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas


Lia Neal competes in the Women's 4x100m Freestyle during day two of the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool at Indiana University Natatorium on December 12, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Lia Neal competes in the Women’s 4-x-100 meter freestyle during day two of the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool at Indiana University Natatorium on Dec.12, 2015, in Indianapolis.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

50 free, 100 free and 4-×-100 free relay: Simone Manuel

4-×-100 free relay: Lia Neal

Track and Field:

Justin Gatlin (L) leads his heat of the 100 meters during the first round on Day 2 of the Olympic Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field on July 2, 2016, in Eugene, Oregon.

Justin Gatlin (L) leads his heat of the 100 meters during the first round on Day 2 of the Olympic track and field trials at Hayward Field on July 2 in Eugene, Oregon.

Daniel Petty/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Women’s 100-meter: English Gardner, Tianna Bartoletta and Tori Bowie

Men’s 100-meter: Justin Gatlin, Marvin Bracy and Trayvon Bromell

Women’s 4-x-100-meter: Morolake Akinosun, Tianna Bartoletta, Tori Bowie, English Gardner and Ariana Washington

Men’s 4-x-100-meter: Marvin Bracy, Trayvon Bromell, Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Mike Rodgers

Women’s 200-meter: Tori Bowie and Deajah Stevens

Men’s 200-meter: Justin Gatlin, LaShawn Merritt, Ameer Webb

Women’s 400-meter: Allyson Felix, Natasha Hastings and Phyllis Francis

Men’s 400-meter: Gil Roberts, David Verburg and LaShawn Merritt

Women’s 4-x-400: Taylor Ellis-Watson, Allyson Felix, Phyllis Francis, Natasha Hastings, Francena McCorory and Courtney Okolo

Men’s 4-x-400-meter: Kyle Clemons, Arman Hall, Tony McQuay, LaShawn Merritt, Gil Roberts and David Verburg

Women’s 800-meter:Chrishuna Williams and Ajee’ Wilson

Men’s 800-meter: Boris Berian and Charles Jock

Men’s 5,000-meter: Paul Chelimo, Bernard Lagat and Hassan Mead

Women’s 10,000-meter: Marielle Hall

Men’s 10,000-meter: Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir

Men’s Marathon: Meb Keflezighi

Women’s 110-meter hurdles: Nia Ali, Kristi Castlin, Brianna Rollins

Men’s 110-meter hurdles: Ronnie Ash and Jeff Porter

Women’s 400-meter hurdles: Dalilah Muhammad, Ashley Spencer and Sydney McLaughlin

Men’s 400-meter hurdles: Kerron Clement, Byron Robinson and Michael Tinsley

Women’s heptathlon: Barbara Nwaba and Kendell Williams

Men’s decathlon: Ashton Eaton and Jeremy Taiwo

Women’s discus throw: Whitney Ashley

Men’s discus throw: Tavis Bailey

Women’s high jump: Vashti Cunningham, Chaunte Lowe and Inika McPherson

Men’s high jump: Erik Kynard and Ricky Robertson

Women’s long jump: Brittney Reese, Janay DeLoach and Tianna Bartoletta

Men’s long jump: Marquis Dendy, Jarrion Lawson and Jeffery Henderson

Women’s shot put: Michelle Carter, Felisha Johnson and Raven Saunders

Men’s shot put: Darrell Hill

Women’s shot put: Christina Epps, Andrea Geubelle, Keturah Orji

Men’s triple jump: Chris Benard, Will Claye, Christian Taylor

Women’s hammer throw: Gwen Berry and Amber Campbell

Rhiannon Walker is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a drinker of Sassy Cow Creamery chocolate milk, an owner of an extensive Disney VHS collection, and she might have a heart attack if Frank Ocean doesn't drop his second album.