Credit: (Image courtesy: Jon Gaede)

Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by BVN

Jon Gaede | Black Voice News and Stephanie Lopez |Loma Linda Academy

Powerful, dynamic, explosive, and sensational, Erin Jackson posted an impressive time of 37.04 to edge out Japan’s Miho Takagi and ROC’s (Russia’s) Angelina Golikova to win the 500-meter speed skating gold medal in Beijing, China.

Although Erina Jackson was rated number one in the world in the 500 meters, she failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics but in an unprecedented act of kindness, veteran speed skater Brittany Bowe gave up her 500-meter Olympic qualifying spot to Jackson. (olympics.com).

An unprecedented act of kindness

Prior to the Olympics, Erin Jackson was ranked number one in the 2022 world rankings at 500 meters. However, after an unfortunate critical stumble during qualifying, her chances to make the American team in Beijing was unlikely. Then, in an unprecedented gesture of selfless kindness, veteran U.S. Olympic speed skater, Brittany Bowe, gave up her 500-meter Olympic qualifying spot to Jackson.

An inspiration

Jackson, who graduated “cum laude” with a degree in Applied Materials Science & Engineering from the University of Florida, has proven many people wrong in her life and in the process is  inspiring a generation of young female skaters both on and off the ice.

Erin Jackson takes a victory lap after gold medal performance in Beijing, China. (Photo courtesy: Jon Gaede).

Jackson began as an inline skater in 2002, then roller derby in 2012, before transitioning to the ice and the indoor oval of long track speed skating in 2017. Her discipline, explosiveness, and ability to handle the pressure, has led to top performances on the oval and inspired many.

Pushing the limits of her ability, facing fears and her willingness to embrace the next challenge are all facets of Jackson’s DNA. Applying the academic discipline of “Exercise Science and Kinesiology” to her approach on the speed skating oval has certainly served her well.

Diversity gap in competitive speed skating

Jackson is aware that beyond U.S. Olympic skaters like herself and teammate Maame Binet, currently there are no other competitive Black female skaters in the U.S.  She is quite willing to talk about the lack of diversity and opportunity in the sport, and to inspire anyone who may be watching.

Her desire to skate on wheels goes back to her childhood in Ocala, Florida, but she emphasizes for anyone paying attention “school was always my main thing.”

Eventually, it was the desire to experience the pure sensation of speed, “I just wanted to go fast,” that piqued her interest in the sport of speed skating.

Shani Davis made history during the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, where he became the first African American to medal in speed skating. He earned a gold medal in the 1000-meter event and a silver medal in the 1500-meter event. Davis repeated his success during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, where became the first man to successfully defend his gold medal standing in the 1000-meter race and to repeat as the 1500-meter silver medalist. (source: wikipedia.com).

Not since the great Shani Davis

These are the first recent Winter Olympic games without Shani Davis. Not since his great Olympic performances has an American skater created similar excitement. Davis was a major headline across the European skating world for two decades, but not so much in America. Like Jackson, he started out roller skating, followed by inline skating in Chicago, then transitioned to both the long and short tracks, where he became the most prolific American Olympic skater of all time.

Erin Jackson is an Olympic champion whose performance is now embedded in the American consciousness. Her simple childhood desire to “go fast” has paid off, earning her a coveted Olympic gold medal and perhaps inspired the next generation of minority young ladies who may seek the same experience and embrace the ultimate challenge.

We will be watching…

Jon Gaede

While on assignment for GamePro Magazine in 1996, Jon Gaede met former Black Voice Sports Editor, Leland Stein at a Los Angeles Lakers’ game. They formed a working relationship which has endured for 24 years. In addition to African safaris, theater productions, Footsteps to Freedom Tours with Black Voice News Publisher Emeritus Cheryl Brown, concerts and portraits, Jon’s true passion comes from shooting action sports images. Jon has covered a variety of prep, collegiate and professional sports from track & field to boxing, including six Olympic Games.