KEARNS, Utah — Maame Biney became the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speedskating team with a pair of victories in the 500 meters.
The 17-year-old native of Ghana cruised to victory in the first 500 final at the short track trials on Saturday, beating Olympians Lana Gehring, Jessica Kooreman, and Katherine Reutter-Adamek.
“I can’t believe it, aww geez,” she said after squealing with joy. “It’s a really good feeling, but it has to set in first because it takes me a while. I’m like, ‘Holy cow.'”
Before the second final, her father sitting in the stands held up a sign reading: “Kick some hiney Biney.”
She sure did.
Biney set a blistering pace in taking an early lead that widened as the wild and wooly race went on. She crossed the finish line on the hockey-sized rink and began clapping and then pumping her arms so hard she lost her balance and fell.
She went down laughing all the way.
“When I realized that I made the Olympic team, I started cheering like crazy and then I made my epic fall,” she said.
Biney will be the second black speedskater on a U.S. Olympic team. Shani Davis, the first African-American athlete to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics, was 19 when he qualified for the short track team in 2002. He later switched to long track and won four medals, including two golds.
According to ESPN, Nigeria will be represented in the Winter Olympics by the African nation’s women’s bobsled team, which qualified for the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Driver Seun Adigun and breakpersons Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga completed the fifth out of the five required qualifying races and became the first African team ever to qualify in the bobsled category.
The squad, led by Adigun, a former African 100-meter hurdles champion and 2012 summer Olympian, completed the qualifying races in Utah and Canada on Tuesday and Wednesday. “This is a huge milestone for sports in Nigeria,” driver Adigun told ESPN. “Nothing makes me prouder than to know that I can play a small role in creating opportunities for winter sports to take place in Nigeria. Our objective now is to be the best representation of Africa that the Winter Olympics have ever witnessed.”
As blavity.com reported, it comes as a shock to many fans of the team and athletes individually, that they have been able to accomplish such a feat, considering they are in fact representing a warm climate country and the sport, for lack of better words, is designed for anything but that. In a recent interview with ABC News, shared to one of the women’s Instagram account, the ladies discuss how they do in fact host the majority of their training in the warm climate.