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Way to Go Sistuh! Lia Neal Becomes Only Second African American Woman to Medal in Swimming

When 17-year-old Lia Neal earned her spot on the U.S. Women’s swim team, she became only the second African-American woman to do so.  Her win injects tremendous pride in an already proud tradition of African American Olympic athletes of the past.  The most beautiful think about Neal’s achievement is its uniqueness.

Not only is Lia only the second African American woman to medal in swimming in Olympic history, she is also the second to make the Olympic team at all. Lia and her team won the bronze medal in the women’s freestyle 4×100 relay.

And while many swimmers are known to hail from Florida, California and other warm-weather coastal states, Neal is straight out of New York City.


Neal lives in Brooklyn with her close-knit family who accompanied her to London for the games.  Her family stands together with one another in their achievements and like most beautiful black families, she gets constant support from those who love her.  Her brother Rome Neal is a senior video web producer at the New York post and penned a piece in honor of his little sister for the website.

“She’s bringing home a bronze to Brooklyn, but she is golden to us. It’s unbelievable that Lia is an Olympian,” he said.

“She first started swimming when she was 6, and I had left home in Brooklyn by then. I remember at one of her first races. I told her I didn’t want to her to be afraid to be more than ordinary. If she feels like racing, she should race to win and not feel bad if she beats other people. Because when you are younger, you want to blend in with the crowd.”

The rising high-school senior must have taken her brother’s advice. She’s definitely more than ordinary.   Maybe for Neal, this is all just the beginning.  She is now one of the greatest American swimmers of all-time.

31 Responses to Way to Go Sistuh! Lia Neal Becomes Only Second African American Woman to Medal in Swimming

  1. Emmett Bowers

    August 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    WHO SAID THAT BLACKS ARE AFRIAD OF WATER.. YOU HAVE PROVEN THEM WRONG….HIP HIP HIP WHO RAH..WAH WAH THE MEDAL IS COMING FROM LONDON TO BROOKLYN NY…CONGRATULATIONS AND TO YOUR TEAM MATES GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  2. nana63

    August 2, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    CONGRATS HISTORY MAKER! GOD BLESS!

  3. bernlaw

    August 2, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Lia Neal we celebrate your win,congratulations!
    LAWAZIZ

  4. Doria

    July 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    I did not have access to a pool when I was growing up. At age 41, I still cannot call myself a swimmer, which is kind of sad. My heart swelled with pride while reading about Lia Neal’s victory. My hope is that other AA kids will get the opportunity to compete for Olympic medals in the future.

  5. ANDREA HALL

    July 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    YAY LIA!!! WE AS BLACK AMERICANS R SOOOO VERY PROUD OF U!!!! KEEP ACHIEVING YOUR DREAMS AND LETTING OTHER KIDS KNOW THAT WHATEVER YOU SET OUT TO DO IT CAN HAPPEN!!!!!

  6. JonLou Von Johnstein III

    July 31, 2012 at 10:23 am

    We can now say with deep pride and utmost respect, “Straight Out of Brooklyn!”

  7. Derrick

    July 31, 2012 at 8:26 am

    She needs our encouragement and voices to make sure she accomplishes her goal.

    If our children had swimming pools, tennis courts, baseball fields and other entities that caucasoid schools enjoy, we would see more Black athletes in playing these sports.

    When I was in the 9th grade, I went to a school that was 99% caucasoid; this school had an olymic size pool, tennis court, sand volleyball court, we had P.E. (Physical Education), it was mandatory we took this course, but now they have taken it out of our schools.

    This is why our children are getting fat with all these dis-ease because THEY DON’T EXERCISE!!! THIS WAS DONE PURPOSEFULLY BY THE RACIST EDCUATIONAL SYSTEM. Just look at the results of our children.

    Our children can accomplish ANYTHING before them, if they are given the chance. Today, they are only introduced to basketball, football and sc(rap) music.

    I remember when Blacks jammed the swimming pool parks and they had BLACK LIFE GUARDS!!!

    African children are taught to swim at an early age. They were swimming AGAINST THE CURRENT IN THE NILE RIVER, WHICH IS THE ONLY RIVER IN THE WORLD THAT RUNS UP STREAM. They learned this swimming technique to catch fish!!!

  8. Marilyn Johnson,ND

    July 31, 2012 at 7:03 am

    This is such exciting and important news of the accomplishment’s of Lia Neal. It shows how the support of family makes all the difference and how hard work and persistence will pay off in the long run.

    Her 10 years of consistent work and focus provided her with the talent to take the medal!

    Kudos to Lia Neal and her family!

  9. mims

    July 31, 2012 at 1:17 am

    Way to go Lia!!!! All of Black Female America is proud of you!!!! That will show white america that we can do just as good or better than them cuz we actually “work” for ours and “earn” it with hard work, determination and sweat. Not just because mommy and daddy got 6 figures in the bank or knows someone, who knows someone. Proud of YOU LIA NEAL!!!! God Bless you and family!!!!!

  10. kimberly

    July 31, 2012 at 1:01 am

    I think this girl is a inspiration to every young girl out there who always felt that she just can’t do it.She proved that you can!I love it!

  11. Harvey

    July 31, 2012 at 12:52 am

    I’m so proud of you the hours of practice paid off you will forever wear the title of OLYMPIAN

  12. ICsre2

    July 31, 2012 at 12:19 am

    So proud of you! You have set the example that gives all young black to want to emulate!

  13. Davchi

    July 30, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Congratulations sister. Of course some media don’t want to make mention the fact of your success. The sister in gymnastics, 16 year-old Gabby Douglas has made the cut in the all-around final finishing 1st yet the media darling white girl Jordyn Wieber missed the cut and now their hope lies in Aly Raisman who finished 2nd. I know they (you know who they are)pray that this young black sister does not take away from their joy to celebrate one of their own and I don’t mean American. I’m with you Gabby to continue to stay focused and do your very best in your next step forward, regardless.

    • Nick

      July 31, 2012 at 12:28 am

      While what you say has some truth to it. It is not the feeling of all of those you believe to feel as you have stated.

  14. Sharon G

    July 30, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    I am so Proud of you Lia.

  15. Freedom!

    July 30, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Thank you for setting a stellar example of pioneering sportsmanship Lia!!!!

  16. wanda

    July 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Wow and a great big congratulations to this beautiful African American woman. Finally, we can begin to lay to rest that ridiculous stereotype that all blacks are afraid of the water.

  17. Fred Mitchem

    July 30, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I was so excited to see Lia swim. I grew up in the military and learned to swim at a segrated pool in Fayetteville NC. with boyhood dreams of being the first Black Olympic Swimmer. I was an age group swimmer,AAU Diver, high school swimmer and diver.I am now a swimmer on the Senior level. I have watch Cullen since before the Beijing Games and thrilled to see Lia these gamee. Thank you for making me aware of Anthony Ervin who is my alumus from UC Berkeley and Maritza Corriea of which both I was unaware of. They are living my dream and it make me very happy and proud. Go Get em.

  18. Jon Griffith

    July 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Way to go Lia. We be so proud of you. Know what, racists will make hay out of this win. Things like “you must have trained with an alligator in the pool,” or “your trainer pulled a watermelon in the pool and had you chase it.” No matter what, you have blazed a trail for the first black female skeet shooter, or the first black female long distance runner. As I said, we be so proud of you.

    • Nick

      July 31, 2012 at 12:26 am

      This is an awesome moment in history. Stop trying to BE sarcastic with your language. It is uncalled for and a clear sign of ignorance. Congrats to you Lia, your team, and family.

  19. Evebantyte

    July 30, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Go girl!
    So proud of you!

    • Derrick

      August 1, 2012 at 11:35 am

      @YOURBLACKWORLD:

      Way to Go Sistuh! Lia Neal Becomes Only Second African American Woman to Medal in Swimming

      You left out the word “WIN”!!!

      Are you guys hiring??? DAMN! Give the sister some R-E-S-P-E-C-T!!!

      WAY TO GO SISTER! LIA NEAL BECOMES ONLY SECOND AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN TO ‘WIN’ MEDAL IN SWIMMING

      OVERstand Me?

      Y’all HATE to see US prosper in ANYTHANG!!! Is this really a ‘Black’ site?