18-year old Maame Biney is the first Black woman ever to join the U.S. speedskating team for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She has already advanced to the quarterfinal round after finishing second in the opening round on Saturday.
Biney stepped onto the ice for her Olympic debut on Saturday to compete in the 500-meter short-track event. Even though a first-timer surrounded by seasoned competitors, Biney’s faith did not rattle and her veteran-like performance secured her a spot in the quarterfinals.
Biney finished second in the opening round in her heat (43.665 seconds) behind China’s Fan Kexin (43.350 seconds). Her incredible block and strong maneuver are what held off South Korea’s Kim Alang who finished third, ensuring her advancement. However, fellow American Lana Gehring failed to qualify.
Born in Ghana, Biney and his father moved to Virginia in hopes of better opportunities. Little did they know that those opportunities would include going to Pyeongchang to compete for the Winter Olympics. Yet, she doesn’t put too much expectation on winning, she also wanted to make the most out of this experience.
“I don’t really feel pressure to be the first to get a medal or anything like that,” she told HuffPost back when she was still preparing for the competition. “I just want to go out there, do my best and have fun, and experience the Olympics. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to win, obviously, but also have fun.”
She is now looking forward to the quarterfinals on Tuesday, and possibly semifinals and the ultimate A final when the medals will be settled.
Follow her on Instagram at @biney.biney