Speed Skater Erin Jackson Made History for Team USA While Staying Totally Relatable

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U.S. speed skater Erin Jackson may have just won the gold medal for the women’s 500-meter, but she’s also arguably one of the most relatable Olympians we’ve ever seen.

On Sunday, Jackson beat Japan’s Miho Takagi to become the first Black woman to win an individual medal in speed skating at the Olympics. She was also the first U.S. woman to win the gold in speed skating in nearly thirty years. (Bonnie Blair achieved this feat in 1994.)

The story of Jackson, who won with a time of 37.04, is even more incredible when you find out that she nearly missed competing entirely. After slipping during qualifying trials, as CNN reports, Jackson only made it to Beijing because teammate and friend Brittany Bowe gave up her own spot to allow Jackson the space.

Of her win, Jackson told reporters after that she “cried immediately” and that “it was just a big release of emotion.”

“A lot of shock, a lot of relief and a lot of happiness. I haven't fully processed everything quite yet, but it just feels amazing," she said.

During Monday’s medal ceremony, Jackson’s tears endeared her to the crowd even further when she put her brand new medal around her neck. In a cute post shared on social media, the 29-year-old said: “[I] cried so much that I put on my medal backward … then cried some more.” 

The Ocala, Florida, native also got a bit more earnest in another post shared on Wednesday. Alongside a video of her skating and talking about being a Black woman in her sport, Jackson captioned the video by saying: “How does it feel to make history in my sport? It’s an honor. It’s something I have strived for. If I can impact even just one little girl’s dream, then that is even better than gold to me.”

Tags: female athletes, olympics

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Written By

Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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