HOUSTON – After the long flight home from Rio, where Sharron Manuel watched her daughter win four Olympic medals, I sat down with her for an interview at the family's Sugar Land home.
"It's been awesome, more than I can ask for," said Sharron Manuel. "I think mostly I was thinking about how awesome it was to see somebody, even though she's my daughter, but just to witness someone who, from a young age, decided that this was something that they wanted to do and to stick with that dream and finally it comes to fruition."
That dream began one day at swimming clinic when Simone was about 9 or 10 years old, her mother remembered. An Olympic swimmer brought in his medal and he let the young budding swimmer wear it.
"She said, 'Yeah, I want to do that one day.' I don't know how serious she was about it, but that was the first time she thought that she wanted to go to the Olympics," Manuel recalled.
Simone not only qualified for Rio, she won two gold and two silver medals.
When she touched the wall for the 4x100-meter freestyle on Thursday, she became the first African American woman to win a gold for an individual event.
"Afterwards, of course, when we reflect on it, and we look back at it, and we realize how significant it was for America as well as for minorities, it meant that much more for a different reason," Simone's mother said.
Simone's final gold came anchoring the 4x100-meter medley Saturday night.
On Monday morning, she spoke with our anchors on "KPRC Today."
"I just had a job to do and I'm glad that it's over with and I'll get to spend some time with my family," Manuel said.
Despite the accolades and enormous accomplishments Manuel achieved in Rio, her mother says her daughter just wants to be thought of as a hard-working athlete, not an icon.
"Our expectations going in was just for Simone to go in and enjoy the experience and do the best she can to represent herself and represent her country, and I think she did that. And it just so happens that her best was two gold and two silver," Manuel said about her daughter.
The city of Sugar Land told Channel 2 that officials are planning to welcome Simone home in a big way when she comes back from Rio.