Athletes from around the world dream of winning the coveted gold medal. This year the very best athletes in the world will have that chance.
The 2018 Winter Olympics kicks off Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang County, South Korea. Among the competitors are a group of dedicated Black women who have waited for this moment, and we’re here to root them on.
Before the torch is lit, check out the Black Girl Magic taking over the XXIII Olympic Winter Games.
Maame Biney is only 17 years old and she’s already in the history books. Biney is the first Black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speed skating team. She won a bronze medal in the 500-meter race at the world junior championships last season. Born in Ghana, Biney moved to Maryland with her father when she was five years old. Her father is also clearly her biggest fan: he was at her second finals match with a sign that read “Kick some hiney Biney.”
The Nigerian Bobsled Team – Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga
Even before the bobsledding team from Nigeria touches the ice, they’ve already made history. Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, and Akuoma Omeoga are the first Africans ever to compete in the sport of bobsled. It all began when 31-year-old Seun Adigun launched a GoFundMe in 2016 to help fund a bobsled team to compete in the 2018 Olympics. She even handcrafted a wooden training sled to begin preparing for the journey. Adigun used all of her savings and teammates Ngozi Onwumere, 26 and Akuoma Omeoga, 25 joined her on the journey to PyeongChang. The entire team began their Olympic journey through track and field. The history-making women have already landed lucrative sponsorships with Under Armour, Visa and a commercial with Beats by Dr. Dre. The team goes for the gold on Feb. 20.
No one was more shocked at Erin Jackson making the U.S. Olympic speed skating team than Jackson herself. While Jackson has been an inline speed skater for 15 years, she made the Olympic team after only competing for four months. “I really wasn’t expecting any of this, just coming in as a newbie, just trying to do the best I can. A couple weeks ago, I was still in the 40s. I think I hadn’t even broken 40 [seconds] yet, so it’s all happened really fast,” she said. Jackson has already earned 11 world medals and 47 national championships during her careers. She has had the honor of being name the U.S. Olympic Committee Female Athlete of the Year for Roller Sports three times.
Elana Meyers Taylor
Elana Meyers Taylor is heading to PyeongChang as a two-time Olympic medalist. She won a bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Taylor has her eye on the gold at PyeongChang. Taylor is an all-around athlete. Before she joined the bobsledding team, she played softball at George Washington University on scholarship. She was offered scholarships for basketball, soccer, track, and field along with softball at various colleges and universities. In case Taylor looks familiar, she was also featured in an episode of ‘Say Yes To The Dress!’ as she searched for the perfect dress to marry fellow bobsledder, Nic Taylor. Taylor’s eye is on the gold medal in South Korea but her ultimate goal is to become the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Lauren Gibbs has teamed up with Elana Meyers Taylor to make their Olympic debut as a team. Before she dived into the world of bobsledding, Gibbs earned a MBA from Pepperdine University. A self-described workout junkie, Gibbs said her love for working out keeps her up at night. “Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because I’m so excited to work on sprinting the next day, because I’m such a bad sprinter… You have to find what you’re really passionate about, throw yourself into it, and focus on those small wins.” Gibbs and Taylor will face 19 other sledding teams including the new Nigerian team Feb. 20 at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
After reading about the trio of Nigerian women set to make history as the country’s first bobsled team in the 2018 Winter Olympics, South African-based Simidele Adeagbo instantly became inspired. A star athlete, who has already proven her success in track and field, she reached out to the Nigerian bobsled team in hopes of becoming their fourth team member. When they informed her their team was already complete, Adeagbo decided to chart a solo journey on the ice as a skeleton slider. Now, the 36-year-old Olympic hopeful will be the first-ever African female to represent her native country in the skeleton event in PyeongChang, South Korea. And to think, it only took four months to master the physically-demanding sport. “I knew that my goal was really to make it to the 2018 Olympic Games and become the first female African athlete and the first Black female to be represented in the sport of skeleton,” Adeagbo told ESSENCE in this interview. “I really took a very unconventional path and looked to see what was possible in four months. And so that’s what I really focused on and worked hard to accomplish over the last few months.”