Maame Biney eliminated in surprising speed skating quarterfinal loss

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—One second. That’s how long it takes for an Olympic dream to vanish. One second, one bump, gone.

Maame Biney came into Tuesday night’s 500-meter quarterfinals riding high. She’d won this event at the U.S. team trials, she’d posted the 10th-fastest time in the initial heat, and she’d had a good few days of practice since then.

But when the gun sounded and the skating began in Heat 3, Biney found herself bumped and boxed out. She couldn’t ever close the gap between herself and her competitors, and she finished a painful, disappointing fourth, with a time of 44.772 seconds, in a heat where only two skaters would advance.

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“I got bumped, and I don’t usually get bumped in the start,” Biney said after the race. “It was a big shock to me. I need to figure out how to get my rhythm back.”

She tried to say more, and then tears rolled down her cheeks.

There’s a sad symmetry to the fact that Biney’s sudden defeat came just hours after Chloe Kim won gold in dominating fashion in the halfpipe, about a 45-minute drive from the Gangneung Ice Center. Kim is just three months younger than Biney, who just turned 18. Both have devoted their lives to their sport — Biney emigrated from Ghana and fell in love with skating at age six, for instance. And both had major branding pushes built around them; had Biney medaled, she would have been introducing a gold medal-branded Kellogg’s Corn Flakes on Thursday.

Biney still has another chance to race in this year’s Olympics, in the 1500m event that begins Saturday. But her prospects in that event aren’t nearly as bright as they were in the 500.

“It’s OK, I’ll be fine, um … ” she said, her voice trailing off. “I just have to wait four more years to get back onto this big stage. I can’t wait to get back.”

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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