(Photo by Ding Xu/Xinhua via Getty Images)
If you’re not familiar with the name Erin Jackson, you should definitely get used to hearing it!
The 29-year-old U.S. speedskater made history over the weekend as the first Black woman to win an individual Olympic medal in any speedskating event. (Yes ma’am!) She is also the first American woman to medal in the 500m since Bonnie Blair in 1994.
She claimed Gold at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games on Sunday with a time of 37.04 seconds.
“Olympic Champion ? It’s going to take me a while to process those words,” she wrote on Twitter.
Cried so much that I put on my medal backward… then cried some more ???? pic.twitter.com/deEgHSFrHU
— Erin Jackson (@ErinJackson480) February 14, 2022
Her gold medal was the first for Team USA in speedskating since 2010, when Shani Davis won the men’s 1,000-meter.
Jackson, affectionately knows as “Speedy,” said becoming an Olympic champion is like a dream come true and and she wouldn’t have predicted it even a year ago.
“I still feel kind of new in the sport and I’m just really grateful it turned out this way. I hope I have a longer future. I just tried to turn everything off and have an automatic race,” she said.
The Ocala, Florida native actually picked up speedskating about five years ago when she switched from inline skating to the ice. It’s hard to believe that her win almost didn’t happen.
According to Team USA, a slip during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials caused her to finish third and miss out on a spot at 2022 winter games. However, her teammate Brittany Bowe, who had won the 500, forfeited her spot so Jackson could race.
“Words cannot explain how proud I am of her,” Bowe said. “I knew she had the chance to do something really special and she just showed the world why she deserved to be here, and she’s Olympic champion.”
Before her Olympic gold medal, Jackson was already blazing trails in the sport of speedskating, as the first Black woman to qualify for an Olympic team in 2018 and the first to win a world cup.
“Hopefully it has an effect,” Jackson said. “Hopefully we can see more minorities, especially in the USA, getting out and trying some of these winter sports. And I just always hope to be a good example like especially with helping kids see that they don’t have to just choose one between school and sports.”
The University of Florida alumna and now-Olympic Champion is being celebrated around the world. We’re so happy to join millions in giving her her well-deserved flowers — and during Black History Month makes it that much sweeter!
We love to see to it! Congratulations to Erin Jackson!