Erin Jackson bolted off the line, her powerful legs attacking the ice, her destiny awaiting at the end of a frenetic dash around Beijing’s magnificent speedskating oval.
She didn’t view herself as some sort of trailblazer. She didn’t think about the slip that could’ve snatched away her spot on the U.S. Olympic team. She simply wanted to go faster than everyone else.
“I came here to win,” the 29-year-old said.
Jackson became first Black woman to win a speedskating medal at the Olympics — and it was the best color of them all.
“A lot of shock, a lot of relief and a lot of happiness,” Jackson said after her victory in the 500 meters.
It was an immensely personal moment for an inline skating champion from balmy Ocala, Florida, who traded her wheels for blades in order to chase an improbable Olympic dream.
Jackson was the first Black woman to qualify in long-track speedskating for the United States and the second woman, Maame Biney the other, on either speedskating team.
Biney, 22, will be competing in her 2nd Olympics. Disappointingly, she didn’t place during her first Olympics, but she’s back after a couple of injuries, more determined than ever. Unlike Jackson, Biney has been a competitive speedskater for years. She competes in the 500 meter short track.