USA’s Erin Jackson becomes first Black woman to win individual Winter Olympic gold.
As a result of Erin Jackson’s dominant performance in the women’s 500-meter speed skating event at the Olympic Games, the United States no longer has to wait for an individual medal in the sport of speed skating.
A former roller derby skater from Ocala, Florida who competed in the event on Sunday night went off in the penultimate pair from the inside lane. She finished the all-out sprint for one and a quarter laps of the oval in a time of 37.04 seconds, which moved her into the position to win the gold medal. After the last pair failed, Jackson ran over to her coach and gave her a bear hug before sitting down on the padding along the infield and cried happy tears.
It is thought that Jackson, who is 29 years old and a former inline skater, is the first Black woman to win gold in any individual event in the Winter Games. Jackson made the United States squad for the 2018 Olympics after only four months of training on the ice.
Jackson expressed his hope that this might have some kind of impact. “It is my hope that we will see an increase in the number of people from underrepresented groups, particularly in the United States, who participate in winter sports. I simply want to set a positive example for others.”
Miho Takagi, a multi-talented athlete from Japan who finished second in the 1500-meter race on Monday, added another silver medal to her collection in Beijing after giving early notice with a timing of 37.12 seconds that held up until Jackson’s performance. Angelina Golikova, a member of the Russian Olympic Committee, crossed the finish line 0.09 seconds behind Takagi to take third place.
Jackson, whose gold is Team USA’s first individual speed skating medal of any color in 12 years and the first by an American woman since 2002, said, “I wish I could articulate how I feel.” Jackson’s gold marks Team USA’s first individual speed skating medal of any color in 12 years. “It is amazing. This medal holds a lot of significance. It has been a challenging few years, and it has also been a challenging start to this year. For things to work out the way it has, it has made me quite happy.
Jackson, the top-ranked 500-meter sprinter in the world with four wins in eight World Cup races this season, thought her Olympic dream was over after a fall at the US trials in Milwaukee last month appeared to cost her a place on the team. However, Jackson’s good friend Brittany Bowe donated Jackson her spot on the team, which allowed Jackson to compete in the Olympics.
Due to the fact that some nations returned their quota seats, Bowe, the defending world champion in the 1000-meter race, was allotted the opportunity to compete in the final on Sunday. She came in 16th place overall.
When asked about how he celebrated Jackson’s triumph, Bowe remarked, “I think I kind of blacked out.” “I screamed so loud that I was on the verge of passing out.”
Ocala, a city in central Florida without any ice rinks but has become an improbable speed skating hub, is Jackson’s hometown. Along with Bowe and Joey Mantia, Jackson is one of the three members of the United States speed skating team that hail from Ocala. There, all three of them began their careers and received instruction from the same youth coach, Renee Hildebrand, who was unable to travel to Beijing with them.
Her victory on Sunday was the first for the United States in the 500-meter race since Bonnie Blair won three consecutive races in this event from 1988 to 1994. Their total of 30 gold medals throughout all categories of speed skating competition places them in second place, behind only the Netherlands and their total of 46.
Jackson described the experience as “a very wild roller coaster.” “There have been happy times followed by stressful times. It’s been a roller coaster trip, but having this [gold] makes it all worth it.