As short track speed skater Maame Biney heads into her second Olympic Winter Games, she’s vowing not to worry about other people’s expectations. She earned her trip to Beijing at the Olympic trials in Salt Lake City. Four years ago, Biney was a wide-eyed teenager who got a bit overwhelmed by the scope of the Olympics. Now she is a more seasoned competitor.
“I’m definitely a lot more calm going into this Olympics because I know what to expect and I have a really good community behind me that keeps me in check and keeps me calm,” said Biney, the first Black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team in short track.
Biney, who will turn 22 at the end of this month, immigrated to the U.S. from Ghana with her father when she was five and is only the second African-born athlete to represent the U.S. at the Winter Olympics. She grew up and began skating in Northern Virginia and relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah for training after high school.
“I feel like the past three years have been pretty tough on me, but I persevered and I’m here now,” said Biney. “The team that I have behind me now is definitely a stronger team. That will show in Beijing.”
Her team is composed of her coach, Simon Cho, as well as mentors and teammates, and Biney said they’ve helped become a better skater. Cho has implemented new technology to improve Biney’s technique, and she’s also started using a meditation app. To fuel her intellectual curiosity, she’s taken courses at the University of Utah and plans on returning for summer school.
Biney is aware that young girls of color see her as a representative of possibility in winter sports. She hopes to see more diversity as she continues her short track career.
“I really hope to enjoy my experience and be proud of what I do,” said Biney. “I’ve had to work extremely hard and mentally a lot more than I ever had to get to this point. Going to the Olympics with the results that I had at Olympic trials is super reassuring. I hope to go to these Games and just do my best.
“I hope that no matter my result young girls are still able to see me in the sport,” she added. “I’m trying to do what I can and I’m going to enjoy the sport. I’m going to give it my all.”