Erin Jackson makes Olympic history with speed skating gold medal

On Sunday night, Erin Jackson became the first ever Black woman to win a gold medal in speed skating at the Winter Olympics.

Erin Jackson only began speed skating six years ago, but in the span of just one-and-a-half olympiads, the American athlete won an Olympic gold medal, finishing first in the women’s 500m speed skating.

Jackson hopes that her gold medal will inspire more people in the US to take up winter sports. “Hopefully, we’ll see more minorities, especially in the USA, getting out and trying these winter sports,” she said, following her historic victory.

Credit: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Incredibly, Jackson was close to missing out on a place in the USA’s Winter Olympics team. She slipped during the US trials, finishing third in the qualifying event – when only two spots were available.

But in a move worthy of a heartwarming, Hollywood sports film, one of her teammates, Brittany Bowe gave up her spot in the event so that Erin could compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

In the end, the USA were given a third slot for their women’s speed skating team after the final allocations were made, which meant Bowe could also compete in the event.

When Erin Jackson claimed gold, the pair hugged to celebrate her victory. “She hugged me and we cried,” Jackson said. “She said she’s really proud of me and I said a lot of thank-yous.”

So. Many. Goosebumps.