At the US Speed Skating Trials on Sunday, top sprinter Erin Jackson was favored to qualify in the 500 meters for next month’s Winter Games in Beijing.
Jackson became the first Black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic long-track speed skating team in 2018. Last November in Poland she added to her trailblazing resume when she became the first Black woman to win a World Cup race. At that event, Jackson clocked 37.613 seconds, beating 2018 Olympic champion Nao Kodaira of Japan by .13.
Jackson is ranked no. 1 in the world and the 500m is her signature event, so everyone expected her to lead the field and qualify.
But disaster struck when Jackson stumbled, finished third and failed to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team.
It was a devastating moment for the young sprinter. Her only hope of making the team was for one of the competitors to drop out or give up their spot.
Fortunately for Jackson, that’s exactly what happened.
In a heartwarming, selfless gesture, U.S. speedskating star Brittany Bowe, who qualified first in the 500-meters, relinquished her spot to Jackson.
“Erin has a shot to bring home a medal – hopefully a gold medal – and it’s my honor to give her that opportunity. She’s earned it and she deserves it,” said Bowe.
Bowe, fortunately, will still compete at the upcoming Beijing Olympics in the 1,000 and 1,500-meter speedskating events. It will be her third Olympics.
Beijing will be Jackson’s second Olympic Games. At her first Games in 2018, Jackson finished 24th. This after switching from inline skating and roller derby.
Erin Jackson will now join teammate Kimi Goetz, who finished second in the 500m trials.