Ocala’s Erin Jackson takes gold for the U.S. in women’s 500 meter speed skating
Speed skater Erin Jackson, a native of Ocala, won a gold medal for the U.S. on Sunday in the women’s 500 meter, becoming the first Black woman to medal in speed skating at a winter Olympics.
The last time an American woman took home the top prize in the event was 1994.
“I wish I could describe how I feel, it is amazing,” she told the media after the race. “This medal means so much. It has been a tough couple of years and a tough beginning for this year. For this to come around like this, I am so happy.”
The victory almost didn’t happen. Jackson, 29, took third in the U.S. trials, the qualifying contest for the Olympics, and didn’t earn a chance to race in Beijing.
But her teammate Brittany Bowe — also from Ocala — decided to relinquish her spot in the 500 meter race to Jackson out of “the spirit of the Olympics.” Bowe reportedly said she had a better chance to medal in the 1,000 meter and 1,500 meter events and that Jackson deserved to compete.
In a karmic twist of fate, Bowe will end up competing in the 500m after all. The International Skating Union’s final reallocation of places granted a third sprint quota spot to the United States — which, naturally, went to the 33-year-old Bowe.
Jackson, who only took her first steps on the ice in 2016, previously competed in inline speed skating and roller derby.
Jackson finished the 500 meter with a time of 37.04 seconds.
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