Maame Biney Named As One of 18 Women In Sports To Watch In 2018 By Forbes

January is almost gone but just like it is done annually, Forbes has released a list of 18 Women In Sports To Watch In 2018 and hey, Ghana’s very own Maame Biney is featured.

Other notable female sports personalities included Sophie Goldschmidt, CEO World Surf League, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Senior Vice President, Olympics and Women, Wasserman and 15 others.

On Maame Biney.

Born to Ghanaian parents, Maame Biney at age 5 was invited to the USA by his father Kweku Biney where she has been since.

Although she wished would return to her mum just the second day after her arrival in the USA, her father weighed in on the options including educational opportunities and convinced her to stay.

12 years later, Maame Biney goes into the history books as the first black woman to qualify for the 2018 U.S. Olympic speedskating team.

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Maame’s father, Kweku Biney recounts how his daughter got interested in a sports that would later make her a toast of the world.

“We were driving down this street right here — Sunset Hills Road,” Kweku, 58, said one recent afternoon, chatting not far from his home in Reston and excitedly poking a finger in the air. “I think it was one day after work. I saw the sign in front of the rink. It said, ‘Learn to skate.’ I asked her, ‘Maame, you want to try this?’ ”

Biney had been in the United States for less than a year and had no idea what ice skating was, but she eagerly agreed. A week or two later, her father dropped her off at SkateQuest ice rink for her first figure skating class.

“The very first day she got on the ice, I was like, ‘Ooh, what did I get myself into?’ ” Kweku recalled. “I thought this girl was going to fall down, break open her head and blood all over the place. But you know, that didn’t happen.”

Though Biney took to the ice right away, she wasn’t a perfect fit for the beginners’ class. An instructor explained to Kweku that his daughter was moving too fast for figure skating and suggested they seek out a speedskating class instead. They were directed toward a beginners’ program in Washington, which later helped spawn DC-ICE, a nonprofit aimed at introducing the sport to inner city youth that met every Saturday morning in the District.

For the Bineys, that meant setting an alarm for 5 a.m. and making the 27-mile trip to Fort Dupont Ice Arena before sunrise.

Those early classes were run by Nathaniel Mills, a three-time Olympian who was immediately struck by Biney’s big personality, if not her palpable athletic potential. She was still learning to maintain her balance and was a tad clumsy on the ice. But she showed up every Saturday morning, wearing bright colors and a brighter smile.

“She’s very much an original. She’s her own person, for sure,” Mills said. “That was apparent at a very early age.”

Her talent and potential didn’t emerge until she threw herself deeper into the sport, moving to a club in Rockville and spending more time each week on the ice. She started refining her technique and participating in local and regional competitions.

Since she got her first taste of it as a shaky 5-year-old wobbling on skates, Biney has never quite gotten over the speed. The sensation she feels flying around the oval is unlike anything else.

“The wind in my face, breezing past me. Oh, man, it feels amazing. . . . It’s like when it’s a hot day outside and you just get the cold breeze on your face, it feels like that,” she said, “but 100 times better because you’re skating.”

She’s explosive off the starting line and can accelerate as quickly as some of the fastest men. She’ll compete in the 500- and the 1,500-meter races in PyeongChang — with her father looking on from the stands — but knows her best bet will be at the shorter distance. At the U.S. trials, she nearly swept the 500-meter races and posted a personal-best time of 43.161 seconds.

Coaches are excited by the potential that lies beyond these Olympics. Biney just recently started doing weight training, and her technique has a lot of room for growth. In some ways, these Olympics are her ground floor. Her athletic peak might be four, or even eight, years away.

If she has a secret weapon, it’s the exuberance she brings to the ice. As she puts it, “having a day without laughter is not a good day.”

Written by Ebenezer Donkoh with curled sections from The Washington Post.

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