Erin Jackson proved her title as the number 1 ranked speedskater in the world is no fluke! The superstar athlete won the world over as she took home the gold medal for the United States in the 500-meter race at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. In the incredible process, Erin became the first Black woman to win an individual speedskating medal at the Olympics. Find out more about the ground-breaking American here!
1. Erin Made History In Her Second Olympics
Erin was the final member of Team USA to skate on Sunday (February 13). She took part in the second-to-last skate of the day, where she faced immense pressure after Miho Takagi of Japan put up an amazing time of 37.12 early in the event. With her winning time of 37.04, Erin became the first Black woman to win an individual speedskating medal at the Olympics.
Even though Erin didn’t start seriously practicing speedskating until 2017, she finished 24th at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. Pretty amazing for someone who took on the sport so late in the game!
ERIN JACKSON WINS IT!
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 13, 2022
2. She Fell At The Trials And Almost Didn’t Make It To Beijing
During the United States Olympics speedskating qualifiers, Erin lost her balance and almost suffered a fall, which caused her to finish third. At the time, only the top two finishers earned spots at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. In an amazing display of friendship and comradery, Erin’s teammate Brittany Bowe relinquished her 500-meter event spot, giving Erin a second chance at chasing the gold medal. In what certainly made for a happy ending, the United States team was granted an extra spot in the event, allowing Brittnay to compete in the 500-meter race. She ended up finishing 16th.
3. Erin Broke Down After Her Friend’s Sacrifice
In a turn of events that would make anyone feel a certain way, Erin was overcome after her friend Brittany’s sacrifice. “That was the second time I got super emotional,” Jackson told reporters at the time. “But at least this time it was over the phone so no one could see it. It’s hard to imagine someone giving up an Olympic spot for you, but Brittany’s amazing and selfless and has such a team-centric attitude.”
4. Erin Is First American Woman To Win Gold In Her Event Since 1984
Not only did Erin become the first Black woman to earn a speed skating medal, she is also the first American woman to win the 500-meter event since Bonnie Blair won a gold medal in 1994. Bonnie is an icon in the race, as she claimed gold a total of three times at the Olympics –in 1988, 1992 and 1994.
5. She Is A Roller Derby Champion
Despite not diving into speedskating until 2017, Erin got plenty of practice flying around a ring at high speeds with another sport. She competed in several roller derby championships during her collegiate career at the University of Florida.