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How Maame Biney Embraces the Cold to Speed Skate Strong Going into the Beijing Games


How Maame Biney Embraces the Cold to Speed Skate Strong Going into the Beijing Games

In our Sleeping With… series, we ask people from different career paths, backgrounds, and stages of life how they make sleep magic happen.

Maame Biney is in pursuit of redemption. The speed skater made history in 2018 when she became the first Black woman ever to make the U.S. Olympic speed skating team—but ultimately had a disappointing debut in PyeongChang.

Biney, who was just 18 at the time, finished 14th in the 500 meters and 31st in the 1,500 meters. After the games, struggling emotionally and dealing with an injury, Biney considered quitting the sport for good, NBC reported.

But flash forward to December of 2021 and everything had changed. The University of Utah student competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials as the lone returning Olympian. And this time Biney, who turns 22 at the end of January, did not disappoint. The Ghanian-born athlete clinched her spot on Team USA with a dominant victory in the 500 meters.

“It’s been a rough couple of years,” an emotional Biney told NBC after her win. “I’ve been through so much mentally.”

Heading into the Trials, Biney said she hoped to “go with the flow” during the three-day championship, but her main focus was winning the 500 meters. When the Red Bull athlete accomplished her goal, some of that pressure appeared to lift. 

“I was very happy about that,” Biney tells SELF, referring to the win that gives her a chance to compete in Beijing at the Winter Olympics next month.

While reflecting on the lessons from her Olympic debut four years ago, Biney says she’s learned to hone her mental game while trusting that her coach will have her physically prepared to tackle the competition.

“I’m definitely taking a lot more steps to figure out where my mind is and gauge what I need to do to be mentally prepared for the Olympics,” Biney says.

One thing she’s doing, for instance, is using the meditation app Headspace to kick off her morning with a positive approach. Biney says she’s also become more intentional about surrounding herself with uplifting people and embracing happy thoughts, so she can navigate life—and sports—with a strong mindset.


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