At just 17 years old, Maame Biney made history as the first Black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speed skating squad, earning her a spot in the upcoming Winter Games.
Maame Biney, center, races to finish during the women’s 500-meter final A during the U.S. Olympic short track speedskating trials Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The Reston, Va., native landed her spot on the team Dec. 16 after two wins in the women’s 500-meter event at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Kearns, Utah.
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. As she crossed the finish line, Biney celebrated so hard that she fell down.
Maame Biney (1) falls as she reacts after winning women’s 500-meter A final race during the U.S. Olympic short track speedskating trials Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
“When I realized that I made the Olympic team, I started cheering like crazy and then I made my epic fall,” Biney said.
Biney was only 5 when she moved to the United States from Ghana, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
She will travel to Pyeongchang, South Korea for the upcoming 2018 Winter Games in February.
Biney hopes to set a new world record time 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.
Maame Biney (1) competes in the women’s 1000-meter during the U.S.Olympic short track speedskating trials Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The teen’s Olympic berth makes her the second Black speed skater to ever 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, including two gold medals, according to NBC News.
Next month, Davis, now 35, will attempt to secure a spot on the Olympic long track team.