As the 2018 Winter Olympics approach, it’s time to start making your list of which fierce competitors to follow. And Maame Biney, the first black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speed skating team, is a no-brainer as far as Olympic fan favorites go.
The 17-year-old not only resembles a cheetah in the rink, she also has the most positive attitude that makes her irresistible to watch. From the second she hits the ice, she amazes everyone in the crowd. Literally, too, because Biney is known for picking up major speed right at the starting line.
The athlete is already making an impact on her fans, which Biney acknowledged in a recent interview with HuffPost. “I am super-honored to be able to be part of this, because I know that us African-American girls and women haven’t been able to be in this situation before,” she said. “I’m really honored to inspire other women, African-American or any other race, to get out there and do what you can and succeed.”
It sounds like the Ghana-born speed skater is ready to become a role model, like so many inspiring Olympic athletes before her. In many ways, Biney’s like most American teenagers — besides making U.S. Olympic history before she’s even competed, of course. But even if you’re not just like her, you’ll likely want to be after seeing her incredible talent and infectious grin.
The video of Maame Biney winning the race that qualified her to compete in the Olympics has over 5 million views on Facebook.
Biney even falls down after realizing her monumental achievement. Yeah, there’s a reason why she’s already everyone’s favorite.
So, who exactly is this 17-year-old speedskating whiz?
Here are seven things to know about Maame Biney, the athlete everyone’s about to be obsessing over.
1She’s setting more than one record.
Besides being the first black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic short track speed skating team, Biney will be the second African-born athlete to represent the U.S. at the Winter Olympics. Also, she’s only the second black athlete to compete on the U.S. Olympic speed skating team, the first being Shani Davis. Speaking of…
2She’s friends with fellow skater Shani Davis.
Biney wrote a sweet message on Twitter congratulating Davis on qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics. “You’ve inspired me and paved the way as the first African-American speedskater to make an Olympic team,” she wrote. So sweet.
3Biney has suffered a few injuries on her way to the Olympics.
As you can tell by her joke on Instagram, she takes it all in stride. What a champ!
4Biney is really close with her dad, Kweku, whom you should look for in the Olympic stands.
In a loving Instagram post, the young speed skater told him: “When I’m older I want to be just like you. Wanting to help people, having an amazing heart, being dedicated, and being the best parent ever.” Cue the tears.
5She has great taste in food.
It’s not what she’s best known for, but Maame Biney definitely seems to be a bit of a foodie. When HuffPost asked her what she’s most excited for in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where the 2018 Winter Olympics are being held, her response was: “Korean food is SO GOOD,” Biney said. “I’m really looking forward to that.” Um, be our best friend please?
6Biney isn’t taking time off from school for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
While most people would understand if she wanted to take a break to, you know, prepare for the most prestigious athletic competition in the world, Biney has elected to take online classes so she can graduate on time with her friends. She’s also applying to colleges and plans to study chemical engineering, according to NBC. She might really be Wonder Woman, y’all.
7Biney was too fast for figure skating.
Though Biney’s father said he originally enrolled his daughter in ice skating lessons, she proved to be too fast for the sport. So she switched to speed skating at the age of 6, putting her Olympic dreams in motion.
Maame Biney is likely to become one of the most fun speed skaters to watch in the 2018 Winter Olympics. And just in case you don’t love her already, here’s her favorite quote, per her Team USA bio:
Get your American flags out now, because this talented young athlete might just make you feel patriotic AF.