Theare full of firsts. There's Russia, , with Russian athletes allowed only to compete under neutral colors. There's the Nigerian bobsled team, which and first athletes from their country to qualify for the Winter Olympics.
And, now, there's 17-year-old Maame Biney, who became the first black woman from the United States to qualify for Olympic speedskating thanks to a pair of 500-meter victories on Saturday. Biney outraced Olympians Lana Gehring, Jessica Kooreman and Katherine Reutter-Adamek at the short track finals in Kearns, Utah, to qualify for the U.S. speedskating team, the Associated Press reported:
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 was born in Ghana but raised in the Washington, D.C. area, The Washington Post reports, and "grew up around the Dominion Speedskating Club in Reston." She will be the youngest of Team USA's women speedskaters at 17 but is only a year removed from a third-place finish at the junior world championships.
She'll be the second black speedskater on a U.S. Olympic team, following in the tracks of Shani Davis, who was the first African-American athlete to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics. Davis was 19 when he qualified for the short track team in 2002 and later switched to long track and won four medals, including two golds.
Davis, 35, is hoping to make his fifth U.S. Olympic team next month at the long-track finals.