Black History Month In Focus: Black Athletes In The Winter Olympics

This is part of The Shadow League’s yearly Black History Month In Focus series celebrating Black excellence in sports and culture.

Of the 2,952 athletes competing at this year’s Winter Olympics, only 41 (1.39-percent) are black, indicating a lack of diversity in these Winter Olympics of unprecedented proportions. 

Team USA is not only bringing more athletes to Pyeongchang (242) than any nation ever has to a Winter Olympics. This year’s team is also the most diverse squad of any U.S. winter squad, in terms of both race and gender: The 108 women on the 2018 team are the most of any U.S. team at a Winter Games.The U.S. squad includes 10 African-Americans, 11 Asian-Americans and its first two openly gay athletes, which makes this Olympic Games truly indicative of a diversity in global sports. 

1. Eighteen-year-old Maame Afua Biney is the first African-American woman to qualify for a US Olympic speed skating team.

Olympic Short Track Speedskating Trials | 17-Year-Old Maame Biney Qualifies For First Olympic Team

Tune in to and NBCSN for more action from Olympic Trials.

2. Jordan Greenway will be the first African-American to play hockey for Team USA at the Winter Games.

TheColorOfHockey on Twitter

Boston University’s Jordan Greenway named to U.S. Olympic hockey team

3. European Bronze Medalist Vanessa James and her partner Morgan Cipres will be figure skating for France. James made history back in 2010 when she and Yannick Bonheur became the first black pair to ever compete at the Olympics. The pair has already started competing in the Team Event Pair Skating Short Program, finishing in 6th with a score of 68.49. 

James and Cipres have racked up five French titles and won medals in the Grand Prix and Challenger Series events since they paired up almost a decade ago. They became the first French pair to win a medal at the European Championships in 14 years after claiming bronze at last years event in the Czech Republic.

Stay – Rihanna // Vanessa James & Morgan Ciprs

guys, I need your opinion here: this montage is meant to be an exhibition routine, that could possibly be skated (so no crazy cutting/ editing) – how do you like it? (for some reason, Im not very pleased with my work here.. ) music: Rihanna (feat.

4. Ngozi Onwumere and her teammates Akuoma and Seun are the first ever athletes to represent Nigeria at the Winter Olympics. In fact, they are the  first African representatives to qualify for and compete in the bobsled competition. Akuoma Omeoga is a three-time national track and field champion who represented the West African country in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The Shadow League on Twitter

Nigerian women’s bobsled team qualifies for 2018 Winter Olympics:

5. Four-time medalist Shani Davis, fresh off expressing his discontent with Team USAs coin flip flop, will be speedskating for his country again.  He is a legend in the sport and the face of diversity for Team USA. In 2006, he became the first black athlete to win a gold medal in an individual sport the 1000 meter event at the Winter Games and, in 2010, the first man to successfully defend the 1000 meter gold medal. 

Now 35, Davis is heading to his fifth Olympics and further cementing his legacy as one of the all-time greats. 

Honorable Mention: Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian 

In 2014, I sat face to face with a living legend but didnt know it at the time. In a small Manhattan office during a press tour, I kicked it with with Fenlator. At the time, she was preparing to make history as an African-American member of the United States Women’s Bobsled squad in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. 

Fenlator-Victorian, now 32, announced her plan to switch representation to Jamaica (where her father is from) in 2015.

In 2018, Fenlator-Victorian and brakeman Carrie Russell (a 2013 World 4x100m champion in track and field) finished seventh in a World Cup in Winterberg, Germany. The result helped Jamaica jump from two spots out of the Olympic field to provisionally in the Olympic field by a small margin over a Romanian sled.

These are just a few of the people of color who have changed the complexion of the Winter Olympics and will be on display in South Korea. 

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