As February is #BlackHistoryMonth we are celebrating Black LGBTQ+ athletes who have made their mark on history. Since February is also when the 2018 Winter Olympics are taking place, let’s check out some the black athletes who are going to be making history this month!
Jordan Greenway- Hockey- USA
With the decision of the NHL to not send players to the Olympics this year, this has opened the door for collegiate and amateur level players to once again shine at the Olympic Games. Including Team USA’s first black Olympic Hockey Player. He is 1 of 4 college athletes on the Olympic team this year.
Shani Davis- Speedskating- USA
Shani David has already made history, being the first Black athlete to medal in any individual event at the Winter Olympics. He has competed at the 2006, 2010, 2014 and is going to compete at the 2018 Games. Considered one of the best speedskaters of all time, Shani is looking to continue his successful Olympic streak. Fun fact, the character of “Frozone” from “The Incredibles” was modeled after Shani, including Frozone’s sweet speed skating moves.
Maame Biney- Speedskating- USA
Maame Biney made history by becoming the first black woman to qualify for the Team USA for the Olympic Games in Speedskating in short track (having done so only weeks before Erin Jackson qualified for long track) and the second African American in history (behind Shani Davis).
Erin Jackson is the first black woman to be named to Team USA for long track speed skating and the 3rd black speed skater to compete for Team USA at the Olympics (she qualified only a couple weeks after Maame Biney). Despite only 4 months on the ice, her background comes from speed skating on wheels, Erin Jackson is a medal favorite going into the 2018 Games.
Nigeria is sending their first ever team to the Winter Olympics with 4 athletes in 2 sports. Starting with Simidele who will be the first black, female, athlete to compete at the Winter Olympics in Skeleton, having only picked up a sled earlier this season, she has shown to be quite the competitor and made the qualification after placing 3rd at the North American World Cup event.
In addition, the team of Seun, Ngozi and Akuoma are the first African athletes to qualify for the Olympics in Bobsled. Fun fact, all 4 athletes have a background in Track and Field, including Seun’s appearance at the 2012 Summer Olympics. They will be quite the force in Pyeongchang this winter.
Ghana is also sending it’s first ever athlete to the Winter Olympics, originally a track athlete, Akwasi missed out on the 2012 London Olympics due to injury, he was then introduced to Bobsled in the Netherlands (where he currently resides) an narrowly missed the Dutch Olympic Team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, he then took up Skeleton where he made the qualification to represent his home country at the North American World Cup.
Born in Kenya but raised in Austria, skiing has been apart of Sabrina’s life since she could walk. Set to be the first female athlete representing Kenya (and second ever athlete after Phillip Boit) at the Winter Olympics. Sabrina is ready to show her pride in her heritage this winter.
Ertiea born, Canada raised, Shannon is ready to fly the flag for Ertirea for the first time at the Winter Olympics. The tiny, west African country has had limited representation at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics but Shannon is ready to add the 2018 Winter Olympics to that history.
Jamaica has been represented in Bobsled at the Olympics since 1988, (see the movie Cool Runnings). But for the first time in Jamaica’s remarkable history at the Olympics, the bobsled team will be all female. This will not be Jazmine’s first Winter Olympics as she drove the sled for Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Games, and joining her will be Adree and Carrie who helped Jamaica when a gold medal the 2013 Track and Field World Championships.
While the Winter Olympics have been traditionally considered to be as white as the snow, these athletes and many others are certainly making their mark, not just to add some diversity but also to show the world what they are capable of. Stay tuned, the Winter Olympics start on February 9th
By Dirk Smith