Just weeks after 17-year-old Maame Biney made history as the first Black woman to qualify for any Olympic speed skating team, another black woman, Erin Jackson has qualified for the U.S. Olympic Long-Track Speed Skating team. Jackson placed third in the 500-meter race to land her coveted spot on the national team, behind Sochi Olympians Brittany Bowe and Heather Bergsma. Bowe and Bergsma had already earned spots in PyeongChang by finishing one-two in the 1000m, so doubling up in another event cleared the way for Jackson to join them.
The Winter Olympics is set to kick off in Pyeongchang County, South Korea on February 9, 2018.
Jackson’s becomes the third Olympic athlete to make the U.S. Speed Skating team and the first Black woman ever to make the Long-Track Speed Skating team. She joins fellow long-tracker Shani Davis and short-tracker Maame Biney, who is originally from Ghana.
Jackson only began taking up long-track speed skating in September 2017. She is a former University of Florida engineering student and roller derby player for the Ocala Cannibals and Jacksonville RollerGirls.
Although she only began taking up long-track speed skating in September 2017, the florida native and former University of Florida student has a background as an in-line skater and roller derby athlete.
“I really wasn’t expecting any of this, just coming in as a newbie, just trying to do the best I can,” she said, smiling. “I still don’t even know.”
Speedskater Shani Davis, the first African-American to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics, qualified for Team USA on Wednesday, marking his fifth straight appearance at the Winter Games.
Davis finished second (1:09.23) in the 1,000-meter race at the Olympic trials in Milwaukee, solidifying his spot on the team ahead of February’s games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
A Chicago native, Davis began roller skating at 2 years old, eventually leading to his making the U.S. junior national team in 1999 at age 16. In 2002, he made his first Olympics as an alternate for the short track team. Four years later, he placed first in the men’s 1,000 meters, becoming the first black athlete from any country to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics, and second in the men’s 1,500 meters. In 2010, he won another gold (1,000-meter) and silver (1,500-meter) medal, and Davis is a seven-time world champion in both events.
Davis is one of the best-known black Winter Olympians, joined by bobsledder Vonetta Flowers, the first black Olympian to win a gold medal (in a team event), and figure skater Debi Thomas, the first African-American to medal at the Winter Olympics.
Other black athletes joining Davis in Pyeongchang will be hockey player Jordan Greenway, the first African-American to play for Team USA; the Nigerian women’s bobsled team, the first team from an African nation to qualify in the event; and fellow American speedskater Maame Biney, 17, who in December became the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. speedskating team.
Our cover photo has Maame Biney (top left) , Shani Davis (Bottom left), and Erin Jackson (Right)
EARLIER : Maame Biney : Ghanaian Teen Is 1st Black Woman On USA Olympic Speed Skating Team – 17-year-old native of Ghana, Maame Biney became the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speedskating team with a pair of victories in the 500 meters. Maame Biney cruised to victory in the first 500 final at the short track trials on Saturday, beating Olympians Lana Gehring, Jessica Kooreman, and Katherine Reutter-Adame handily.
The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games will be Biney’s first Olympics.
“I can’t believe it,” she told reporters. “It’s a really good feeling, but it has to set in first because it takes me a while. I’m like, ‘Holy Cow.’ When I crossed the finish line, I don’t know what I was thinking. I was just like, ‘I got first! That’s so cool!’”
Before the second final, her father sitting in the stands held up a sign reading: “Kick some hiney Biney.”
She sure did.
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.
Maame, whose parents are Ghanaian, will be the second black speed skater on a U.S. Olympic team. Shani Davis was 19 when he qualified for the short-track team in 2002. He later switched to long track and won four medals, including two golds, according to USA Today.
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 skaitng 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.
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.