United States

17-Year-Old Va. Skater Becomes First Black Woman on US Olympic Speedskating Team

Although originally from Ghana, Biney wants to represent the U.S. because of the country's diversity

A 17-year-old Virginia skater is the first black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speedskating team.

Maame Biney, of Reston, Virginia, secured her spot on the team after she made history winning the 500-meter races at the U.S. Olympic Short Track Trials on Dec. 16. The bubbly skater flew past the competition and then fell as she celebrated.

Of course, she got right back up.

Biney says she owes her determination to her Ghana-born father. She is grateful for how much he has sacrificed and the amount of work he put into her success, she said.

The Olympian's father, Kweku Biney, moved with her to the U.S. in 2005 in an effort to give his daughter a better future.

They had to leave behind other family members to begin their new life.

"My journey was never easy. It was hard, but I made it," Kweku Biney said.

Although Biney credits her father for her many accomplishments, he refuses to take it. "God saw me through it," he said. "He planned it all. I was just the facilitator. That’s all I can say," he continued.

Perhaps there was some destiny involved. During an interview with News4, Kweku held out a business card that his daughter had never seen. Maame grabbed it, looked and laughed.

It was a reminder card for her first group skating lesson, her dad said, that was scheduled for Dec. 17, 2005. Exactly 12 years and one day later, she would qualify for the Olympics.

Biney’s icy ride began at six years old. When her father saw a “learn to skate” sign at SkateQuest in Reston, he initially signed Biney up for figure skating.

A few months into the lessons, Biney’s coach noticed she skated too fast for figure skating and mentioned she should try speedskating. Her coach was onto something.

Twelve years later, the high school senior is part of history and the Olympic team.

Although originally from Ghana, Biney wants to represent the U.S. because of the country's diversity.

"This is what this country is. It’s diverse and different, and that’s exactly why I’m representing the U.S. Because we’re different."

As Biney prepares for her first Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, she believes the sacrifices she’s made for speedskating were worth it.

"Even with all the hard work, all the crying, all the tears, I would do it again because I had double the laughter."

Biney is the second African-American speedskater to represent Team USA at the Olympics, following in the footsteps of Shani Davis. Davis has since made three more Olympic teams and earned four medals, including two golds.

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