Erica Sullivan is a star. In a surprise finish, the out swimmer won the silver medal Wednesday in the inaugural women’s 1,500-meter freestyle, finishing just four seconds behind teammate Katie Ledecky.
Then she proceeded to hold one of the most memorable Q&A sessions of this year’s Olympics.
Sullivan, 20, finished with a time of 15:41.41 to capture the silver. While she isn’t new to the international stage, this was her breakout moment. Sullivan made Team USA’s roster for 2018 Pan-Pacific Championships, where her best finish was a fifth in the 800-meter freestyle.
She also represented Team USA at the 2019 Open Water World Championships.
Following her silver-medal finish, Sullivan proceeded to the news conference room, where she proudly called herself the “epitome of an American person.”
“I’m multicultural. I’m queer. I’m a lot of minorities. That’s what America is,” she said, via the Washington Post. “That’s what America is. To me, America is not about being a majority. It’s about having your own start. The American Dream is coming to a country to establish what you want to do with your life.”
Sullivan, who’s Asian-American, made many trips to Japan with her family as a child. Her grandfather actually designed some of the buildings that are hosting the Olympics, the Post reports.
During her roughly eight-minute Q&A, Sullivan enthralled reporters with humorous tales about training in “absolutely disgusting” waters when pools were closed during the pandemic.
Her sense of humor also shines through on her Twitter page.
Fun fact: I had the Olympic record for 16 minutes. @katieledecky put in the work and threw down the heat after. But I’ll proceed to flex my 16 minutes— Erica Sullivan (@erica_sully) July 27, 2021
Leading up to the Olympics, Sullivan spoke with our Cyd Zeigler about her difficult road to Tokyo, which included the death of her father and coming out.
It’s safe to say Sullivan is embracing her identity now.
“Just me getting to be on the podium, in Japan, as an Asian American woman and getting to take silver in a historical women’s event for the first time, as someone who likes women and who identifies as gay — it’s so cool,” she said, via the Post. “It’s awesome.”
Indeed. Team LGBTQ currently has eight medals.