Short track skater Maame Biney started figure skating at age 5 before moving into speed skating at a coach’s suggestion. Her father, Kweku Biney, saw a “learn to skate” sign on the road one day and asked his daughter if she was interested.
Born in Accra, Ghana, ice sports were not familiar to a young Maame Biney.
“She didn’t even know what that word (skating) was and I explained it to her. The only thing cold in Ghana is cold beer,” Kweku Biney told the Associated Press in 2017.
Biney, 18, is competing in her first Olympics this year. She gained attention when she won a bronze medal in the 500m at the 2017 World Junior Championships in January. She finished seventh overall.
It was Biney’s win at the 500m races at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for short track skating that drew attention. When she crossed the finish line, she beamed, cheering so hard that she fell. Her post-race interview with her signature smile and laugh made her a viral sensation.
The win, sending Biney to the 2018 Games, makes the 18-year-old the first African-American woman to represent the U.S. in Olympic speed skating. She’s the second African-born U.S. Olympian and the second African-American speed skater on a U.S. Olympics team.
Other interesting facts:
- Known in high school for being too happy all the time
- Loves pop music
- “Titanic” makes her cry every time she watches it.
- Favorite quote is “Laugh until you can’t laugh anymore.”
- Wants to become a chemical engineer
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