First Black Woman Glides Onto U.S. Olympic SpeedSkating Team

by: Lenore T. Adkins Special to the AFRO
/ (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) /
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Maame Biney, 17, has made history as the first Black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speedskating squad, setting her up to compete in the upcoming Winter Games.

The Reston, Va., native landed her spot on the team Dec. 16 after two wins in the women’s 500-meter, U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Kearns, Utah.

Maame Biney, center, is be the first Black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speedskating squad. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

In the first 500 final at the short track trials, Biney emerged victorious over Olympians Lana Gehring, Jessica Kooreman and Catherine Reutter-Adamek.

The teenager crushed the competition again in the second final, and once she crossed the finish line, Biney celebrated so hard that she fell down.

“When I realized that I made the Olympic team, I started cheering like crazy and then I made my epic fall,” Biney told reporters.

Biney was only five when she moved to the United States from Ghana, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

She’ll head to Pyeongchang, South Korea for the upcoming 2018 Winter Games in February.

Biney’s hoping to set a new world record for the women’s 500-meter event — the current record, set in 2016 by Elise Christie of Great Britain, is 42.335 seconds, the Tribune reported. Biney’s personal best is 43.161 seconds, according to the Tribune.

The teen’s Olympic berth makes her the second Black speedskater to land on the U.S. Olympic team. Shani Davis of Chicago was 19 when he qualified for the short track team in 2002. He later changed to long track and secured four medals, two gold medals among them, NBC reported.

Next month, Davis, 35, will attempt to secure a spot on the Olympic long track team.

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