KEARNS, UT (AP) – Maame Biney became the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speed skating team with a pair of victories in the 500 meters.
The 17-year-old native of Ghana cruised to victory in the first 500 final at the short track trials on Saturday, beating Olympians Lana Gehring, Jessica Kooreman and Katherine Reutter-Adamek.
“I can’t believe it, aww geez,” she said after squealing with joy. “It’s a really good feeling, but it has to set in first because it takes me a while. I’m like, ‘Holy cow.'”
Before the second final, her father sitting in the stands held up a sign reading: “Kick some hiney Biney.”
She sure did.
Biney set a blistering pace in taking an early lead that widened as the wild and wooly race went on. She crossed the finish line on the hockey-sized rink and began clapping and then pumping her arms so hard she lost her balance and fell.
She went down laughing all the way.
“When I realized that I made the Olympic team, I started cheering like crazy and then I made my epic fall,” she said.
Biney will be the second black speed skater on a U.S. Olympic team. Shani Davis was 19 when he qualified for the short track team in 2002. He later switched to long track and won four medals, including two golds.