Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that when it comes to athletics generally, black people kick ass! But when it comes to the Winter Olympics, uh- not so much. We’re conspicuously underrepresented. Aside from logistics problems, this may be due in part to the fact that our melanin was made more for the sun than it was for winter’s chill. This year however, this chill did not stop some amazing athletes of African descent who brought a lot of heat to the ice in the 2018 Winter Olympics games.
As March is all about women, the spotlight is on the black girl magic that was present at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in South Korea earlier this year, which was the Winter Olympics with the most African people! Before we delve in, we are proud to make the honorable mention of Akwasi Frimpong who made Ghana very proud in the Skeleton category. And now to the melanin Olympic goddesses:
Starting with our very own from Ghana, the history-making American-raised Maame Biney who came to “kick some hiney!” was born in Accra and relocated to the USA with her father at age five. She begun skating at age 6. Years of skating definitely paid off because this year, Maame went down in the books as the first African-American woman to compete on the US Olympic Speedskating Team, and the youngest speed skater at age 17!
Now on to Nigeria, which brought not one, but three different varieties of black girl magic to the Winter Olympics with Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere competing in bobsled as the first Africans to compete in that sport. If you think that’s all that make these women special, there’s more!
Seun (31) is a chiropractic student studying for a Doctorate of Chiropractic, and a Master of Science in Exercise & Health Science from the Texas Chiropractic College and the University of Houston Clear Lake, respectively.
Akuoma (25) works as a healthcare recruiter, and is a former collegiate Track and Field athlete of the University of Minnesota.
Ngozi (26) has working experience in the mortgage industry, and is currently pursuing a Doctoral degree as a full time student!
As if three was not enough amazement from Nigeria alone, Simidele Adeagbo also competed as Nigeria’s first female Skeleton athlete, and at 36, she’s a four-time All-American and school record holder in triple jump!
Sabrina Wanjiku Simander was also present to represent Kenya as an alpine skier. Born to an Austrian father and Kenyan mother, she moved to Austria from Kenya at the age of three. At 19, she’s made Kenyan national history as the first woman to compete for the nation.
Another national history maker was Madagascar’s Mialitiana Clerc who competed in alpine skiing as the first female to compete for her country, at age 16!
Togo was not going to be left out of this year’s Winter Olympics and was represented by cross-country skier Mathilde-Amivi Petitjean. Petitjean had previously competed for France where she had lived most of her life, but made the switch to her country of birth, and land of her mother. At age 24, Petitjean is a Business student at the University of Technology (IUT) in France.
It looks like we might be on to something here Africa! No matter from what country, we’ve always been a people who venture into the world and make our continent proud. I can’t wait to see all these melanated women, and more, at the next Winter Olympics. We’re still young at this, but we’re definitely gunning for gold!
Written by Prisca Kys