GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro's Mariah Richardson is taking her shot at Olympic Gold. The inline skater turned to ice speed skating under a year ago and hopes her intense training and hard work is enough to put her on the Olympic stage.
Watching the 26-year-old on the ice, it's hard to believe Richardson stepped on the ice for the first time last year.
"My first thought was, 'Holy Moly! I'm horrible," laughed Richardson. "But I just said, why not? Let's do this!"
Richardson's training right now for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Training Facility in Salt Lake City, Utah and she's already exceeded expectations in the first qualifier.
"Qualifying times for the Olympic Trials is 42 flat and I qualified with a 41.1," she humbly explained to WFMY News 2's Tracey McCain.
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Now she's ready to take her shot at the big one.
"I don't say Olympics because I think it's an overwhelming word, so we just say the big one; the big competition because it doesn't make me as nervous," said Richardson.
The nerves are understandable, but her story doesn't start here. For that you have to go back twenty years to the Piedmont Speed Club in Greensboro. Richardson put on inline skates at 6-years-old and didn't want to take them off.
"I didn't want to go to any school dances. I didn't want to go to any football games, well some once I got to high school."
By the time she was nine, Richardson was ready to compete; racking up 300 inline medals and 60 national titles by the time she graduated from Western Guilford High School.
Richardson learned sacrifice early on but that dedication's paying off. Now the five-time inline Team USA member wants to go for the big one; trading up her wheels for blades. Richardson's a motivated athlete and she has something to prove.
"That would be super, super cool for me to be the first African American female even though my hair is bright blond," she laughs.
A spot on the Olympic Team would secure her place in history as the first African American woman to go this far in the sport.
"I'll be very blessed and so proud to represent my culture and let them know you can do anything so go out there and try to be different. I get to represent my country and my family, my friends and do something that I'm completely passionate about and to me that's anyone's dream."
Richardson's summer training started this week so it gets intense from here. She has multiple competitions leading up to the final Olympic trial in January 2018.