She’s only 18 years old, but Maame Biney has already made history. The short track speed skater became the first African-American woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speed skating team when she won 500-meter race at team trials in December 2017. She competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. And now as a full-time college student at the University of Utah, the Ghanaian-American’s sights are set on 2022.
“My next goal that I'm working on is being able not only to qualify for the next Olympic games, but to get a gold medal in the 500-m,” she tells OkayAfrica. On where she finds the inspiration and energy, she says, “just having the people around me, they make skating really fun. I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn't have a community like that with me.” It’s hard to imagine that this youth role model gets any time to herself, being an information systems major and training to beat her next record, but she still gets to be a teenager; hanging out with friends and watching Netflix are her favorite pastimes. Right now, she remains focused on sports and school, but to everyone else watching, she’s inspiring first generation athletes that they can be the first (and the best) in their fields.