Erin Jackson was set to miss out on a spot in Beijing but her friend Brittany Bowe, a fellow skater gave up her spot for Jackson.
American speed skater Erin Jackson penned her name into Olympic history after becoming the first Black woman to win a gold medal in the women's 500-meter speed skating event. The skater was so overcome with emotion that the gold medal around her neck was backward while she stood up on the podium. The 29-year-old hailing from Florida was emotional after she finished first in the skating event and was seen crying on the podium. The adorable images and video just perfectly summed up what the achievement meant for the American speed skater. She also became the first Black woman to win gold for an individual event at the Winter Games as she finished her lap in just 37.04 seconds, reported NBC News.
Erin Jackson could hardly contain her emotions as she climbed to the top of the podium after the event. "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," said Jackson, reported CNN. "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 joked about it on Twitter, writing, "Cried so much that I put on my medal backward… then cried some more 😭🥇🇺🇸." As Jackson took in the applause and the cheers, the backside of the medal was facing outward to the crowd and the media. The back of the gold medal has the logo of the Beijing games—"Beijing 2022"—on it with a small set of rings below it. Beneath this, the official name of these Olympics is written in Mandarin characters. The front of the Olympic medal features the Olympic rings in the center. "XXIV Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022" is written in the first arc underneath the rings, with cloud and snowflake designs filling the two outer circles of the medallion, reported Insider. As Jackson stood on the podium, the wrong side was facing forwards on her neck as the U.S. national anthem was played out.
Cried so much that I put on my medal backward… then cried some more 😭🥇🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/deEgHSFrHU— Erin Jackson (@ErinJackson480) February 14, 2022
A black woman named Erin Jackson won GOLD in speed skating today! The first black woman to win a gold in speed skating in history! pic.twitter.com/SVecgCPz4V— Elle (@HeyMichsi) February 13, 2022
Jackson's win is a significant one for her, the African-American community and for Team USA. The women's 500-meter speed skating race is one event that Team USA hasn't won since 1994. What's even more stunning is that Jackson has been a lifelong rollerblader and switched to ice only five years back. Within a year of skating on ice, she qualified for the Olympics in Pyeongchang four years ago.
Jackson may have scripted history but she has Brittany Bowe, a fellow skater and good friend, to thank for the opportunity. Jackson was ranked no. 1 in the world but stumbled during Olympic trials. However, Bowe, a good friend of hers, offered Jackson her spot in Beijing and said it was "the right thing to do." Jackson couldn't thank her enough. “Just for her to do something like this for me, it’s amazing,” said Jackson at the time. “I’m just incredibly grateful. I’m really humbled, and she’s just an amazing person.” Bowe said, "There’s not a doubt in my mind that she wouldn’t do the same thing for me."
Bowe was among the first to congratulate Jackson after she secured gold for Team USA. They hugged as tears of joy streamed down Jackson's face. Now, Jackson is rooting to see a gold medal around Brittany Bowe's neck. Bowe is set to take part in the 1000-meter event.