You don’t see many black faces among the athletes vying for medals at the Winter Olympics.
For almost 90 years, the winter Olympics had appeared as mostly exclusionary events when it came to advancing black athletes.
Sports writers have noted that not since 1976, when Tai Babilonia became the first Winter Olympian of African-American heritage, did we see a greater movement toward ethnic diversity among members of the U.S. Team. And these black Winter Olympians do not disappoint.
In 1980, American bobsledders Willie Davenport and Jeff Gadley became the first black men to compete in a Winter Olympic game. Eight years later, in Calgary, ice skater Debi Thomas, a Stanford University student, became the first black Winter Olympian to win a medal, bringing home the bronze. In 2010, speed skater Shani Davis took home the gold in Vancouver in the 1,000 meter race.
So it is worth making a big deal out of the silver and bronze medals won Wednesday by the U.S. women’s bobsled teams.
Team pilot Elana Meyers and brakeman Lauryn Williams took the Olympic silver at the Sochi winter games. On the other sled, teammates Jamie Greubel as the pilot and Aja Evans, the brakeman will bring home the bronze. It was Meyer’s second time at the winter Olympics; teammate Lauryn Williams also competed before Olympic crowds, but in the summertime.
When it comes to this Olympic victory, there was plenty of history to savor. It was the first time two U.S. women’s bobsleds medaled at the Olympics. Meyers became the first American woman with two bobsled medals.
And Williams, whose entire bobsled career spans about six months, is now the fifth Olympian to medal in different events at both summer and winter Games. Her bobsledding silver adds to the gold medal she won in 2012 in London for the sprint relay and a silver in 2004 she won in Athens for the 100-meter race.