Maame Biney defends world junior 500m title

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Maame Biney got an early birthday present.

The 2018 Olympian defended her title in the 500m at the World Junior Championships this past weekend in Montreal, Quebec. In the quarterfinal round, she set a junior world record with a time of 43.212.

“I love it,” Biney said of her win, according to U.S. Speedskating. “I felt really good and skated really well. It’s a really good birthday gift, because my birthday is in two days.” (She turned 19 on January 28).

“I know where I am and I know I can get better,” she said. “This is just a representation of what can happen in the future.”

Biney, who was born in Ghana and raised in Virginia by a single father, had her breakthrough moment at the World Junior Championships in 2017, when she won bronze in the 500m. The bubbly teenager had a dominant showing at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 500m to earn a spot on her first Olympic team, becoming the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic short track team. Her best finish in South Korea was 14th in the 500m.

Since the Olympics, Biney graduated high school and started college at the University of Utah.

Biney will compete in the fifth World Cup of the 2018-19 season this weekend in Dresden, Germany.