Her name is pronounced MAH-may BYE-nee and she is as talented a speed skater as she is infectiously upbeat. To say her smile can light up a room is a massive understatement; a more accurate statement would be to say that her smile can light up a country.
She’s winning over audiences and fellow Olympians every second of the day with her unbelievable positivity and competitive attitude. She also happens to be making Olympic history as the first ever female African-American speed skater to qualify for Team USA.
The high school senior is competing in the 500m short track speed skate and the 1500m event as well, with a great chance for gold in both events.
Her story is a unique one. Biney was born in Accra, Ghana, but moved to the U.S. to live with her father in Reston, Virginia, when she was 5. She got her start in skating at the age of 6 when her dad saw a sign that said “learn to skate this fall.” When Maame said she was interested in skating, the first thing her dad had to do was explain to her what ice skating actually was. (There’s not exactly a plethora of ice skating opportunities in Ghana.)
Maame was a natural on the ice, her athleticism quickly transitioned into speed skating after a brief stint with figure skating. Her coaches saw how fast she naturally was on skates and the rest is history.
“I love the speed,” she said in an interview with NBC News. When asked if she could picture herself figure skating now, her answer was a hard no. “Because these thighs are not meant for figure skaters. They are for speed skaters.”
Like the next big comic book hero, her source of power comes from her alter ego, Anna Digger. She turns on the intensity when Anna Digger comes out, she attributes her intense game face and competitiveness to Anna Digger as well. She came up with the character when she was 10, according to The Washington Post. And according to USA Today, Biney even has a separate email account for Anna.
Biney is usually all smiles, but on the track it’s Anna’s game face that’s showing — and Anna will have her time to shine on Tuesday. Biney said after Saturday’s race, “You’re definitely going to see her [on Tuesday],” reports The Washington Post. “I’m ready to go out there and kill it!”