We Do This: 12 Black Winter Olympians Who Made History

Famous gymnast Gabrielle Douglas, a retired American artistic gymnast is the 2012 Olympic all-around champion and the 2015 World all-around silver medalist. She paved the way for Black Olympians today.

 

The Winter Olympic games bring together athletes from around the globe to a central competition, showcasing talent on ice, in frigid temps, and in sports we often may forget about. That hasn’t stopped Black athletes from making history, breaking and setting records at the Winter Olympics.

With the 2022 Winter Games beginning this week, and dozen of Black athletes we’re watching, the Black Information Network thought it would be important and timely to uplift the names and stories of those who carried the torch –– celebrating our history at this world event.

Here are 12 Black Olympians who’ve made history at the Winter Games.

 

Debi Thomas
This New York native kicks off our list because of her 1988 feat of winning a bronze medal in figure skating –– becoming the very first Black athletes to earn a medal at the Winter Games. Thomas, did this while a student at Stanford University. To this day, Thomas remains the only Black woman to make it to the podium in figure skating.

Photo: Getty Images

Vonetta Flowers
In 2002, Flowers became the first Black athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Games after placing first place in the two-woman bobsled event, alongside her teammate Jill Bakken.

Photo: Getty Images

Shani Davis
Team USA speed skater Shani Davis broke barriers at the 2006 Winter Games, becoming the first Black athlete to win a gold medal in an individual competition.

Photo: Getty Images

Jarome Iginla

Representing Team Canada in 2002, Iginla became the second Black athlete to win gold at the Winter Olympics, scoring big for the country’s ice hockey team.

 

Photo: Getty Images

Elana Meyers Taylor
This Oceanside, California native made Winter Olympic history at the 2010 and 2014 games becoming the first-ever American athlete to win a medal as a brakeman and driver in the bobsled event. Meyers Taylor won bronze and silver, respectively.

She’s currently in Beijing hoping to be cleared to compete at this year’s games after testing positive for Covid-19.

Photo: Getty Images

Lauryn Williams
This Pennsylvania native reached an impressive feat in 2014, officially becoming the first woman ever to win a medal at the Summer and Winter Olympics. In 2004 and 2012, Williams medaled in track and field, representing the US as a sprinter. In 2014, she clutched the silver alongside Meyers Thomas in the two-woman bobsled event.

Photo: Getty Images

Jordan Greenway

Greenway made history as the first Black person to represent the U.S. Hockey Team when he competed at the 2018 Olympics. After being drafted by the National Hockey League as an ice hockey forward for the Minnesota Wild, he received many accolades, including being a gold medalist during the 2014, 2015, and 2017 world championships.

 
Anaheim Ducks v Minnesota Wild

Photo: NHLI

Maame Biney

In 2018, the Accra, Ghana born athlete became the youngest athlete and first Black woman to make the Olympic short track speed skating team. She’s also only the second athlete born in Africa to represent the U.S. for the Winter Olympics. 

Winter Olympics - Previews - Day -4

Photo: Getty Images AsiaPac

Sabrina Simander

In 2018, at just 19-years old, Simander became the first female and alpine skier to compete for Kenya at the Winter Olympics. She was the only athlete representing the country that year.

FIS World Ski Championships - Women's Super Giant Slalom

Photo: Getty Images Europe

Akwasi Frimpong

 

The Ghanaian athlete was the first to represent his country in Skeleton. Frimpong is also the second Ghana’s second athlete ever to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Skeleton - Winter Olympics Day 7

Photo: Getty Images AsiaPac

Simidele Adeagbo

Adeagbo became the first Nigerian and African woman to compete in skeleton in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The skeleton racer is also the first Nigerian and African Athlete to Win Gold in an International Bobsled Race. 

Skeleton - Winter Olympics Day 8

Photo: Getty Images AsiaPac

Erin Jackson

Jackson, the world’s top-ranked woman in the 500m event for speedskating, is the the first Black woman to be on the U.S. long-track speedskating team. The 29-year old skate qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics after learning how to speedskate just four months prior to the games.

 
Team USA Portrait Shoot Ahead of Beijing 2022

Photo: Getty Images North America

Catch the 2022 Olympic Games kicking off Friday, February 4th – February 20th.

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