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U.S. Olympic speedskater Maame Biney is studying the best way to take pleasure in life once more

U.S. Olympic speedskater Maame Biney is studying the best way to take pleasure in life once more

Sports activities Illustrated and Empower Onyx are placing the highlight on the various journeys of Black girls throughout sports activities—from the veteran athletes, to up-and-coming stars, coaches, executives and extra—within the sequence, Elle-evate: 100 Influential Black Women in Sports.

Maame Biney is powerful, highly effective, assured and targeted—not simply as a two-time Olympic speedskater however as a younger Black lady. It was a journey for her to be within the area she is now, an area she now understands she belongs and deserves to be in, however the street was something however clean.

Speedskating was a sport that got here into her life by happenstance. Raised by a single father, Biney’s dad enrolled her in skating to maintain his six-year-old daughter busy. Her teacher observed how briskly and highly effective she was and advised she transfer from determine to speedskating. She continued skating not with Olympic goals in thoughts, however as a result of it turned a spot the place she felt pleased and assured.


Biney was residing life as a speedskater, a sport that’s not talked about a lot, particularly on the subject of girls—then Biney confirmed up. She was a younger Black lady who was good at what she did. When she certified for the 2018 Olympics, she had no expectations aside from to take pleasure in it—Biney’s mantra was “I’m simply pleased to be right here.” That rapidly modified when she was thrust into the highlight as the primary Black feminine Olympic speedskater, one thing the world had by no means seen. Biney delivered a lackluster efficiency. She was ready bodily, however her greatest competitors wasn’t her world-class rivals—it was herself. Biney let the strain have an effect on what ought to have been her second. It wasn’t simply the strain to carry out, but additionally the highlight that induced the 18-year-old to achieve a breaking level from undesirable consideration and social media opinions that she was not ready to deal with.

“Earlier than the Olympics, I had like 500 followers on Instagram and I used to be residing my finest life. I used to be loving it, like, no issues,” Biney says. “Then after the Olympic trials instantly, I had like 5,000 followers, and it simply saved going. I used to be so pressured, and I bear in mind simply breaking down. I used to be so younger; I used to be 18 and I don’t actually like consideration. All these individuals need me to do properly. I bought in my head, and I wasn’t skating for myself. There’s this expectation to carry out and this expectation to characterize the Black group and the Black lady group. It turned a burden.”

After the 2018 Olympics, issues bought much more troublesome for Biney—she considers ’19 the worst 12 months of her life. She was pushed past her emotional breaking level not solely from nervousness with the pending ’22 Olympics, but additionally a coach that pushed her previous her emotional limits. For therefore lengthy the game was her pleased area and fervour, however she was able to stop. She was drowning emotionally and knew she needed to search assist.

“I used to be struggling quite a bit with melancholy and nervousness and never doing properly in skating,” Biney says. “I prayed like I’ve by no means prayed in my life in 2019. I bear in mind crying on a regular basis in my room and praying to God and asking, Why is my mind like this?

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Biney’s religion and plenty of remedy helped her pull by to arrange her emotionally for the Beijing Video games, giving her the instruments to manage and quiet the noise. She was prepared, her 2022 mantra was “I’m skating for Maame.” She didn’t win a medal in Beijing, however this time that didn’t matter—she discovered herself and her place. As she confidently skated round that rink, she confirmed the world that Black girls belong.

“I’ve been the one Black individual within the room; I’ve been very conscious of that. However there’s a purpose why I’m right here. And there’s a purpose why God put me right here, and I’m going to dwell as much as that purpose,” Biney says. “I simply hope that I’m capable of do it to the most effective of my talents. I encourage different Black girls to carry on to the assumption that they’re there for a purpose, and to not be scared to be the loudest individual within the room. Now we have this stereotype that Black girls are loud; it doesn’t matter. If somebody’s making an attempt to scream on prime of you, scream louder.”

Biney is assured her medal will come and is concentrated as she prepares for the 2026 Olympics. Whereas she holds the dream of successful a medal in her coronary heart, it doesn’t take priority over her emotional well-being. So, for now, Biney is making a balanced life by taking a much-needed timeout that features touring, consuming wonderful meals all over the world and watching an excellent rom-com each time she will be able to. As she evolves and turns into a extra self-aware lady, Biney is hoping to encourage different girls to undertake her new mantra for ’26: “I should be right here.” As a Black feminine athlete who has redefined what power and energy appears to be like like, Maame Biney is right here for a purpose.

“A powerful Black lady is somebody that may be robust in sure moments, even when they’re unhappy, depressed and aren’t robust, accepting that and being prepared to ask for assist,” Biney says. “It’s somebody that may love themselves as they’re and never care about what different individuals assume. They’re capable of stroll in a room and personal the room. Even when they’re the one Black lady within the room, simply be like, what, I’m right here for a purpose.


Senita Brooks is a contributor for Empower Onyx, a various multi-channel platform celebrating the tales and transformative energy of sports activities for Black girls and women.

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