The Winter Olympics Beijing 2022 is underway and American speedskating Olympic champion team USA’s Erin Jackson on Sunday won the women’s 500m gold medal at 37.04.
Jackson, 29, who almost missed out in the 500m after slipping during the trials during qualifying trials, but all thanks to teammate and friend Brittany Bowe giving up her own spot to ensure the world No. 1 was able to go to Beijing has now become the first US woman to win a speed skating gold at the Olympics
The former roller derby skater finished 0.08 seconds ahead of Japan’s Miho Takagi in second and 0.17 seconds ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee’s Angelina Golikova in third, CNN reports.
“I wish I could describe how I feel.”
“I cried immediately, 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,” Jackson told reporters.
“I had a little misstep on the backstretch, but I just tried to, I wouldn’t say recover, because it wasn’t anything big, but just tried to continue skating.” She added.
“It is amazing. 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.”
A natural born star, Jackson made the US team for the 2018 Olympics after only four months on the ice. She is believed to be the first Black woman to win gold in any individual event at the Winter Games.
“Hopefully, this has an effect,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, we’ll see more minorities, especially in the USA, getting out and trying these winter sports. I just hope to be a good example.”
Recall Jackson’s fall at last month’s US trials in Milwaukee almost put an halt to her Olympic dream, costing her a place on the team, but her friend Brittany Bowe, the reigning world champion in the 1000m, rose to the rescue, donating Jackson her spot.
“I think I kind of blacked out,” Bowe said of celebrating Jackson’s victory. “I screamed so loud I almost passed out.”
Her win on Sunday marked the United States’ first in the 500m since Bonnie Blair won three straight from 1988 through 1994. Their 30 gold medals across all speed skating events are second only to the Netherlands, who have won 46, the Guardian reports.
“It’s been a big roller coaster,” Jackson said. “There’s been happiness, stress, happiness. It’s been a wild ride but this [gold] makes it even sweeter.”