Jessie Diggins Makes History With First-Ever Us Olympic Medal in Cross-Country Sprint

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Team USA is making history at the Olympic Games in Beijing this week: Cross-country skier Jessie Diggins just became the first U.S. athlete to medal in an individual sprint.

On Tuesday, Diggins won the bronze medal in the women’s individual cross-country sprint event after Swedish competitors Jonna Sundlinga and Maja Dahlqvist took gold and silver respectively. Fellow U.S. athlete Rosie Brennan finished in fourth.

In a sweet Instagram post, Diggins thanked “Coaches, Techs, Team, Family, Friends, Supporters and Cheerleaders” who were “there for the bad times as well as the good times.”

“This moment belongs to all of you — and it only happened BECAUSE of you. My heart is bursting!” she said. “Feeling all the love and most of all just grateful to have such an amazing team to celebrate with.”  

Prior to Diggins, the only other time a U.S. athlete took home an individual medal in cross country was in 1976, reports NPR. Taking place in Innsbruck, Austria, Bill Koch won silver in the men's 30 km race.

A seasoned Olympian, Diggins previously won a gold medal in the team sprint free during the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018. During those games, Diggins was partnered with Kikkan Randall for an event that involved two racers relaying back and forth multiple times. Together, they were the first U.S. women to medal in cross-country skiing.

Of her bronze medal this time around, Diggins was beaming when she talked to the Today Show and revealed that it was “so special and so exciting.”

“It’s been overwhelming, but in the best way,” she said, adding that when she crossed the finish line she “wasn’t sure that I had definitely gotten the bronze, so I was a little bit scared to celebrate."

The 30-year-old said she was “in a lot of pain” after the “challenging course,” but that she was “so proud” of what she accomplished.

In response to Diggins talking openly about her struggle with an eating disorder, Today’s Al Roker asked about her decision to be so candid about that part of her life. 

“I think it’s so important for me to share all of my story. The ups and downs. I really think we need to see heroes on TV who are vulnerable, who are imperfect. Because I nearly tore myself apart trying to be perfect,” she explained. 

She went on to say that she got help and let people into her life so she wants people at home to know that they have hope too. “If I can do it, they can do it too,” she said.

Tags: olympics, trends

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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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