Over the last year, our own Contributing Writer Tia Shah, has been writing an amazing column about trailblazing girls throughout history. This new Incredible Girls column is in that vein, only this column is about contemporary girls under the age of 25 who are doing awe-inspiring and significant things in the world. Every Friday in 2019, we are going to post a column detailing the life of an Incredible Girl and why you should know about her. Read on for a glimpse into the life of Olympic speedskater, Maame Biney.
19-year-old Maame Biney is an American short track speed skater, and a member of the U.S. Olympic team. In 2018, she became the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic short track team. She competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Maame was born in Ghana and came to the United States with her father at age five, where she grew up in Virginia. She first got involved in skating when her father saw a sign for skating lessons, but she was deemed too fast for figure skating, and transitioned to speed skating instead. In 2017, she won bronze in the 500m at the world junior championships and set her sights on the Olympics. Shortly after, she moved in with a host family in Kearns, Utah, where the U.S. national team trains.
Her best finish in South Korea at the Olympics was 14th in the 500m. Since the Olympics, she graduated high school and enrolled in the University of Utah; she has said that she wants to be a chemical engineer in the future.
In 2018, Maame talked to Teen Vogue about her college experience so far: “I like making my own decisions, and finding time for myself to do the things that I wanna do or that I need to do…” she said. “And the things I need to do always come first, like school.” In addition to school and extracurriculars, she is continuing to skate on the U.S. national team, in part because the University of Utah doesn’t have a team.
Her favorite athlete is Serena Williams (a pick that I WHOLEHEARTEDLY co-sign!), and her favorite thing about college is her newfound independence. She says her dad is key for helping her to ignore her haters, and to her doubters, she politely says: “Thank you for your opinion, but please get out of my way so I can go skate.”
For more on Maame, check out this article where she thanks her father for all of his support during her career, and this 2018 NPR article.
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