By Waverly Colville
The Olympics haven’t always been the most friendly to women of color. The first time women (who were white) competed was in the 1900 Olympics in Paris, France in tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrian and golf. Different sports opened up to women as time went on as shown in the women’s history timeline on the Olympics website.
But for black women, success didn’t come until later. In 1932, Louise Stokes and Tidye Pickett qualified for the Los Angeles games in track and field but were not allowed to compete because of their race. But just four years later at the next games, Stokes and Pickett became the first black women to compete in the Olympics.
Alice Coachman, a track and field star, became the first black woman to win Gold at the London Olympics in 1948, setting records for her high jump.
Of the nearly 3,000 competitors in Pyeongchang, South Korea this year, black athletes represented just 1.45 percent, according to Buzzfeed. In the U.S. team, nonwhite athletes comprised just under 9 percent of the team, with 10 black athletes and 11 Asian Americans.
Here are five women of color who killed it at the games:
The daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, she’s already making history at just 18 years old.Biney is the second African-born U.S. Olympian to compete in the games. She’s a short-track skater and the first of two black women to represent the U.S. in skating along with Erin Jackson.
“I am super honored to be able to be part of this, because I know that us African American girls and women haven’t been able to be in this situation before,” Biney told the Huffington Post. “I’m really honored to inspire other women, African American or any other race, to get out there and do what you can and succeed.”
At the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, this 17-year-old from California became the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding medal when she won gold in the women’s snowboard halfpipe. Kim is the first female snowboarder to land back-to-back 1080s and was the first female snowboarder to score a perfect 100. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she qualified for the 2014 Sochi Olympic games but was too young to compete at 13 years old.
She was introduced to snowboarding by her father, Jong Jin Kim, who quit his job to drive her six hours each way every weekend to train. Her father calls her his “American dream.”
“Today is the day imugi turns to dragon,” Jong Jin Kim texted Chloe before her competition. An imugi is a fantasy snake-like creature and Chloe was born in the Korean year of the dragon.
The 25-year-old only recently began skating on ice. She’s a lifelong speed skater on inline roller skates but began on the ice just four months ago with the original goal of training for the next Winter Olympics in 2022. But her talent launched her to become an Olympian earlier.
“Something that you might notice if you’re someone who watches the Winter Olympic Games is that there are not a lot of people of color participating,” Jackson said to Rolling Stone. “But I’m looking forward just to being someone that children and people of color can look to, and maybe make them say ‘maybe this is a sport that I can get into.”
The first U.S. woman to land a triple axel, this 24-year-old figure skater from California helped Team USA win bronze for the team event in figure skating. The triple axel is so difficult she’s only the third woman from any country to land the jump. She’s competed in the 2010 Vancouver games, placing fourth and has competed in several World Championships as well.
The daughter of Japanese immigrants, she almost gave up figure skating when she didn’t make the 2014 team. But instead, she turned her rejection into motivation and it was well worth it.
“This is definitely history, or herstory, whatever way you want to put it,” she said after her performance at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea.
This bobsledder joked she needs to complete her collection. With a bronze and silver at the Vancouver and Sochi games, she aimed for the gold in Pyeongchang. Her chances of winning something were excellent: she holds the record for the fastest starting pilot in the world and has won nine U.S. championships. She brought home the silver.
The 33-year-old black woman from Georgia is a professional softball player as well. When softball was cut from the Olympics in 2012, she needed another sport to fulfill her dream. Her mother suggested she go for bobsledding.
Because of her multiple concussions and other injuries from the sport, she recently announced she would donate her brain for concussion research.
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