Former Pfeiffer athlete competed in 1988 Seoul Olympics
With the Tokyo Olympics underway, Pfeiffer University recently looked back at Stephanie McKnight, a former Pfeiffer tennis and women’s basketball student-athlete, who has competed on the world’s stage.
McKnight, who was a dual-sport athlete in Misenheimer from 1978-1980, helped the Pfeiffer women’s basketball team to a national ranking and a berth in the national tournament. She was also a member of the Falcon women’s tennis team from 1978-80.
Following her career at Pfeiffer, McKnight started participating in several endurance sports, as she participated in several triathlons. She claimed first-place finishes in the Chautaugua Cup Challenge (Chataugua, N.Y., 1984), Steamship Triathlon (Buffalo, N.Y., 1985), Sherkston Beat Tin Man (Ontario, Canada, 1986) and in the America’s Paradise Triathlon (St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, 1988).
She also participated in the Skylon International Marathon in Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1985 and 1986 and in the Bonnie Bell Half Marathon in Buffalo, N.Y.
In 1988 she was invited by the United States Cycling Federation to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado and participated in several road races throughout the Northeast, clocking a top-10 finish in the 155-mile Killington, Vermont Stage Race.
In 1988, she qualified for the Seoul Olympics and represented the U.S. Virgin Islands, as she was a native of St. John in the American Territory. That year, the U.S. Virgin Islands sent a delegation of 19 men and three women to compete in 27 events across six sports (athletics, cycling, equestrian, sailing, shooting and taekwondo.)
She was the only female from the Caribbean region and one of four Americans to compete in the Olympic Road Race, finishing 48th in the 52-mile race with a time of 2:01.50.
Following her Olympic appearance, McKnight became involved with the winter sport of skeleton racing, thought by many to be the most dangerous sport in the world. She was invited to train as part of the Virgin Islands Bobsleigh Federation in Calgary, where she participated in extensive training sessions, ultimately participating in the 1990 World Cup Championships in Konigssee, West Germany.
While in West Germany, she was among three of eight women and 61 men who were able to meet the qualification standards set by the Federation of International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing (FIBT). During competition that ran from Feb. 17-18, 1990, she clocked a time of 3:52.51 seconds over four races at the Skeleton World Championships, winning the competition in the female division. She finished 15.6 seconds ahead of the second-place racer.
Following her skeleton career, she then spent time in Switzerland at a cycling training school.
On Sept. 5, 1990, the Eighteenth Legislature of the Virgin Islands honored and commended her for Outstanding Achievement in Sports.
On Sept. 23, 2005, McKnight was inducted into the Pfeiffer University Sports Hall of Fame for her career among her numerous sporting background.
A native of Cruz Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, McKnight lives in the San Francisco area and has served with the San Francisco Fire Department since 1995.