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Starr Andrews talks about her US Nationals medal, push for more diversity in skating

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(NEW YORK) — Starr Andrews recently made history as the first Black woman to medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 35 years.

The 21-year-old skater has been open about her push to bring more diversity to the sport and inspire others.

She spoke with ABC News Live Monday about her pewter medal win at the event and representation in the sport.

ABC NEWS LIVE: And a huge congratulations to you on recently becoming the first Black woman to medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 35 years. So how did that feel in that moment? We’re showing your picture right now on your knees, hand to your head, just seemingly in disbelief.

STARR ANDREWS: It was an amazing experience and I’ve been to a good few national championships. So this one, it just felt so special. And the first time I ever skated at senior level, which is the highest level you can skate, is in San Jose. And we were back in San Jose earlier this year and I was super excited to have medaled there. My first senior U.S. Championship medal ever, so I was really excited.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Understandably so. Talk to me about your journey to figure skating. How did you start and what motivated you to continue?

ANDREWS: So I started at the young age of three and a half, and my mom introduced me since I could walk; very, very small. I loved it as soon as I saw my mom skating. I was like, it looks so fun and I want to get out there. And once she put me on those skates and got me on the ice, I just loved it. And I still love it so much to this day, just like how I was when I first learned about figure skating. And I think that my journey has been long and I’m definitely still going through my journey, but it’s all been very exciting and just I just love it so much.

ABC NEWS LIVE: We can tell just right from the start. You were such a natural and early on in your career you were diagnosed with super ventricular tachycardia, which causes your heart to beat much faster than normal. How has your experience with SVT influenced your approach to training and competition and what steps you take to manage your condition while skating?

ANDREWS: I was, I wasn’t diagnosed until a year ago. The first time I ever had that experience, I was 12 years old and I went undiagnosed for a long time. The doctor told me that I was fine and that it didn’t happen long enough for it to be a problem. I knew it was a problem because it wasn’t a normal thing to happen to just anybody. And one time it happened at a very big competition and, unfortunately, I had to pull out of the competition.

I think from the moment my mom was like, OK, we really need to figure out what this is, because if it’s going to affect huge competitions like this, imagine if it’s if it’s at national championships or at a world championships, and it happens in your short program and you can’t finish. That would just be heartbreaking, especially because I worked so hard to get up to that point. So it was definitely something that was difficult to skate with, especially not knowing what it was for so long. But now that I know what it was and that I had the surgery, it’s been so much less stressful going to competition and not having to worry about that.

ABC NEWS LIVE: I can imagine. And thinking back on your career, what advice would you give to other young Black girls who may be interested in pursuing figure skating or other sports, but just may not see people who look like them in those spaces?

ANDREWS: I would just tell them to do what you love and believe in yourself. You can do anything you put your mind up to and don’t ever doubt yourself because I feel like I did that for a little while and there’s really no reason to. Just believe in yourself.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Good advice there. Before we let you go, what are your future goals and plans in figure skating and what steps are you taking toward them?

ANDREWS: My future goals are definitely to make it to the next Olympic Games. That’s my No. 1 goal. And I have little goals in between that to medal more at competitions and just to keep inspiring little girls and little boys out there who want to also ice skate or do anything that they put their minds up to.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Are you seeing some progress when it comes to minorities becoming ice skaters?

ANDREWS: I am. There are a lot of communities and a lot of organizations that are coming together and definitely making sure that there’s more diversity in ice skating. And I love it. It’s something that I never saw when I was younger. So it’s great to see it happening now and see it changing.

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