Who is Maame Biney?
17-year-old Maame Biney (prounounced mah-may bye-nee, like hiney) made the U.S. Olympic short track team for the 2018 Winter Games after sweeping the 500m races at December's Olympic Trials.
Short track beginnings
Biney was born on January 28, 2000 in Accra, Ghana, a country on the western side of Africa.
She started skating lessons at six years old after moving to Reston, Virigina to live with her father, Kweku.
The father and daughter were driving one day when Kweku saw a "learn to skate this fall" sign on the side of the road. He asked Biney if she was interested, then had to explain to her what ice skating was.
"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," he told the AP.
She started with figure skating lessons then switched to speed skating on a coach's recommendation.
Maame Biney broke through on the world stage at the 2017 World Junior Championships, held last January in Innsbruck, Austria. Biney won a bronze in the 500m, and finished seventh overall.
The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games will be Biney’s first Olympics.
Biney proved she’s one of the U.S.’ top skaters at the 2017 Short Track World Cup Qualifiers, an August competition that determined which short track skaters would compete at the fall World Cups. Biney won the 500m and finished in the top three in the 1000m and 1500m, earning her the top overall ranking.
Biney made her debut on the World Cup circuit this fall. Her best individual result was fifth in the 500m at the Shanghai World Cup.
Biney became a viral sensation when she dominated the 500m races at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for short track skating in Dec. 2017. With her explosive start and powerful stride, she won both A Finals to clinch her first Olympic berth, then her exuberant celebrations and giggly interview earned her legions of new fans.
A video of the 500m #2 final was watched over four million times on Facebook.