Ghanaian-born speed skater is first black woman to qualify for US Olympic team

Maame Biney as she crossed the finish line — Photo Credit: US Speed Skating

17-year-old speed skater Maame Biney is the first African-American woman to qualify for the United States Olympic speedskating team and the second speed skater to ever qualify for the Winter Olympics.

Biney made history on Saturday after cruising to victory twice in the 500-meter short-track speedskating trials inside the Utah Olympic Oval.

She beat Olympians Lana GehringJessica Kooreman, and Katherine Reutter-Adamek to seal a place at the February 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“I can’t believe it! Ah, jeez. It’s a really good feeling, but it has to set in. It takes me a while before it’s like, ‘Holy cow,’” the high schooler was quoted by as saying.

She crossed the finish line and fell in astonishment over the fete never achieved in the United States.

“When I crossed the finish line, I don’t know what I was thinking – I was just like, ‘I got first, that’s so cool.’ And when I realized I made the Olympic team I started cheering like crazy. And then I made my epic fall, so, yeah, you’re welcome,” she added.

Maame Biney was born in Ghana and when she was 5 years old, she visited her father Kweku in the United States where she stayed.

Her father, who witnessed the history being made, enrolled her in figure skating lessons a year after she visited the U.S. She then switched to speedskating and excelled in the sport.

“He’s been through everything and I’m amazed by him. I just want to thank him a lot for everything …  he’s been through all the practices with me and watches me every day and gives me tips, and I love him for that,” she was quoted by

thanks dad for helping me get to nationals in St. Louis. i love you!

— Maame Biney (@BineyMaame) March 23, 2014

Biney won bronze at the world junior championships last year where she became the second U.S. woman to win a medal at the event since 1996. A few months ago, she qualified for the senior world cup team becoming the overall women’s winner.

Maame Biney follows the footsteps of Shani Davis who was two years older than her when he qualified for the 2002 Winter Olympics as the first black man to qualify for the United States Olympic speedskating team.

He has since partaken in three Olympics and won four laurels including two gold medals.

This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on

Published by Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei is an international journalist, digital media and communications professional, editor, writer, arts, culture and tourism advocate, human rights activist, pan-Africanist, tech enthusiast and history buff. He has worked with multinational media companies across Africa and has over a decade’s experience in journalism.

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