Silver medalist Erica Sullivan reveals singer inspired her to chase Olympic dreams

Silver medalist Erica Sullivan has revealed that an interaction with her favourite singer on social media fuelled her Olympic dreams.

The 20-year-old, who came out as gay in 2017, won the first-ever silver medal in the women’s 1,500-metre swimming event at the Tokyo games. After her historic win, Sullivan proudly declared that she believes she is the “epitome” of being American because she is “multicultural”, “queer” and a “lot of minorities”.

Sullivan told PEOPLE that her win is “absolutely crazy”, but she said it was even more of a “big deal” that other people “are also taking notice” of her. This included her favourite singer Camila Cabello, who Sullivan said amplified her dreams of going to the Olympics.

The swimmer confessed she has “always been obsessed” the former Fifth Harmony member. Sullivan added that Cabello “followed me on Instagram” which was a huge moment for the fan, and she immediately tried to reach out to the singer.

But, according to Sullivan, Cabello took a while to respond to the Olympian.

“I was DMing her, I was like, ‘Girl, please notice me’,” Sullivan explained.

She continued: “Because my press conference kind of blew up on the Today show Instagram and she had posted it on her story, but she wasn’t responding to my DMs.

“I was like ‘Girl, that is literally me. I am on your story, just respond’.”

The Olympian then decided to take a different route. She told PEOPLE that she sent Cabello a tweet from 2016 where the singer gushed about the Olympic swim team. A young Erica Sullivan had responded to the tweet, saying “I guess I’ll become an Olympian”.

I guess I’m gonna be an Olympian now https://t.co/g1PZoDY6gT

— Erica Sullivan (@erica_sully) August 7, 2016

Five years later and after winning a silver medal at the Olympics, Erica Sullivan dug up the old tweet and reiterated her love for Cabello on the social media platform.

“Hey [Camila Cabello], I know this is five years too late. But I’m still single,” Sullivan wrote.

Hey @Camila_Cabello I know I’m about 5 years late. But if the offer stands I am still single. https://t.co/V9USl8lfJ3

— Erica Sullivan (@erica_sully) June 17, 2021

And then finally, after years of waiting, Sullivan got the moment she had been waiting for – Cabello messaged her back on Instagram. The Olympic champion shared “receipts” of their interaction on Twitter.

In the photo, Cabello shared that she ‘loved’ Sullivan and was honoured “to have been a part of ur gay awakening”. She added: “Love you girl and so happy for you and proud of you.”

RECEIPTS YALL pic.twitter.com/9iontmqRQe

— Erica Sullivan (@erica_sully) August 1, 2021

After sharing her love for Cabello, PEOPLE asked Erica Sullivan if the singer had essentially “fueled” her journey to becoming an elite athlete.

“She really did. She honestly did,” Sullivan simply responded.