Maame Biney, 22, became the first Black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic short track speedskating team ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, when she was just 18 years old. She was also the youngest skater in the team’s history.
Maame Biney wants to change the sport of short track speedskating for all the competitors who come after her—on and off the ice.
Fast-forward four years, and Biney feels a responsibility to the generation of speedskaters that will follow her, knowing that she’s blazing a trail in her sport.
Heading into the Beijing Games, Biney was the first to use a revolutionary new speedskating training technology. Using motion sensors and pressure technology to capture her every move on the ice in 3D, Biney and her coach Simon Cho are hoping bring home the United States’ first Olympic women’s short track medal in 12 years.
They are also hoping Biney can set a new world record.
The world record for the women’s 500 meter is 41.936, set by Canada’s Kim Boutin at an ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup event in Salt Lake City, Utah, in November 2019. Biney’s personal best is 42.807, so she needs to shave a full second off her time—which is much easier said than done.
Off the ice, the Ghana native who relocated to Virginia with her father when she was five years old is recognizable for her megawatt smile and infectious laugh—but after her first Olympics, these belied a discomfort with the new spotlight she found herself in.
Like many first-time Olympians, she didn’t know how to deal with the newfound weight she felt placed on her shoulders.
At 22—having celebrated her birthday with her teammates on the flight to Beijing—Biney now feels more unencumbered by expectations, understanding her family’s and community’s support isn’t dependent on how she performs.
She’s also grateful to compete for an adopted country that has allowed her to make her living doing this.
Source : forbes.com