During this year’s winter Olympics, French ice skating duo Yannick Bonheur and Vanessa James will be the first Black duo to compete in the event.
From AFP – “It’s destiny and I’m very happy about it,” said 27-year-old Bonheur.
“There’s the grace and beauty of Vanessa and then my athleticism. And the fact that we’re both black brings a pleasing visual harmony.”
James previously competed internationally for Britain as a single’s skater. She was the 2006 British national champion and 2007 silver medallist.
The pair moved to Indianapolis in the United States in August 2009 to train with Russian coach Sergei Zaitsev.
And last December they booked their ticket to Vancouver by winning the French nationals, a victory which enabled James to receive French citizenship.
Bonheur said they were determined that their Olympic experience will lay the groundwork for future successes, after they finished seventh at Europeans.
“This is just the beginning. We want to make a name for ourselves so that they’ll remember us for next season,” he said.
Being tagged the first black pairs skaters is not a disadvantage, they insist.
“It’s often been remarked that we look different on the ice. So we want to highlight that,” said Bonheur.
I remember watching Surya Bonaly doing that one foot backflip. I don’t think she ever got a medal, and I also recall a great deal of controversy and jokes at her expense. That was the 90s. I’m not sure the sport has grown that much, however I’m encouraged by these talented athletes.
Perhaps more diversity in the ice skating world will prevent incidents like this.
Really? Brown body suits, faux body paint and eucalyptus leaves = Aboriginal. Sad. Racial and cultural insensitivity.