Erin Jackson: First Black Woman to win Winter Olympic Gold


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Erin Jackson wins Winter Olympic gold.

Momo Sutton, Reporter

Erin Jackson is a 29-year-old American speedskating Olympic champion, an inline skater, and roller derby player. She was originally an inline skater before switching to the ice. Erin qualified for the World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland, where she competed in inline speed skating in various distances on road and track. She also qualified to compete in the 500 meters long track speed skating event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

During the current World Cup season, Erin suddenly emerged as one of the world’s best sprinters. She won four of eight 500 races and came to the Olympics as a favorite. “When I won the first World Cup, I was like, ‘OK that’s strange. Let’s see where it goes,'” she recalled. “Then I won another, and I was like, ‘Well, maybe I can do this.'”

Making the change to ice just months before the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, she took to speed skating so fast that she earned a spot on the U.S. team. She finished 24th in the 500, but Erin Jackson had only just begun her speed skating legacy. However, she slipped at the U.S. trials and finished third, which put her spot on the Olympic team in jeopardy. But her teammate Brittany Bowe, another Ocala skater who finished first at the trials, gave up her spot in the 500 to ensure Erin would get to compete in Beijing.

At the time, Erin praised Brittany, calling her an “amazing friend, teammate and mentor. She made a really big sacrifice for me, and I’ll be grateful to her forever.” She later wrote, “You can bet I’ll be the loudest voice in the oval cheering for her in the 1000 and 1500 next month.”

Erin Jackson lived up to her reputation in Beijing, becoming the first Black woman to win a speed skating medal of any color. Not only that, but she is the first American to win speed skating gold since Shani Davis won his second straight gold in the men’s 1000m in 2010, the first American woman to win speed skating gold since Chris Witty won the women’s 1000m at the 2002 Salt Lake Games, and the first American woman to win gold in the women’s 500m since Bonnie Blair won three straight titles (1988, 1992, 1994). Erin won with a time of 37.04 seconds, giving the American speedskating program its first medal of the Beijing Games.

“I came here to win,” the 29-year-old said. “A lot of shock, a lot of relief and a lot of happiness,” Erin said after her victory in the 500 meters. “I just hope that it will do something for the sport… Hopefully, more people will see this and be like, ‘Ohhh, maybe I should try some of these winter sports.'”

Erin Jackson grabbed an American flag and did a celebratory lap around the Ice Ribbon oval, the stars and stripes fluttering above her head. “It’s been a wild ride,” she said, “But that makes it even sweeter.”