*Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur of France on Monday became the first black couple in history to compete in Olympic pairs skating.
The couple met each other three years ago through an Internet site for competitive pairs skaters seeking partners.
“I didn’t search for a black girl in the first place, just a girl who wanted to try and work for it,” Bonheur, 27, told reporters, according to Reuters.
James, 22, was born in Canada, but competed for Britain as a single. She was granted French citizenship last year. She said her performance with Bonheur at the Winter Games showed the door had finally been opened for black pairs skaters.
“We hope that in the future we can win many medals and have a black coach and officials in pairs skating,” Bonheur told reporters after the performance.
Although the duo finished in 14th place, their series of high-flying jumps and high-risk lifts made them crowd favorites at the Pacific Coliseum.
Previous black Olympic skaters competed as singles. Debi Thomas of the U.S. won a bronze medal at the Calgary games in 1988, and Surya Bonaly of France competed in three Olympics in the 1990s.
Below, Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur skate to Bjork’s “Oh So Quiet” at Courchevel Galain in 2009.
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