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However, the 29-year-old girl from Good Ocala, Florida, knew that this moment was special, her chance to really impact future generations.
She will forever be known as the first black woman to win a medal in speed skating at the Winter Olympics – and gold.
“Hopefully it will have an effect,” Jackson said. “Hopefully we’ll see that more minorities, especially in the US, are choosing and trying these winter sports.”
Jackson won the 500-meter dash on Sunday with a time of 37.04 seconds, giving the U.S. speed skating program its first medal at the Beijing Games and its first individual medal since 2010.
But it was much more than a necessary incentive for the sport, which brought more medals to the U.S. throughout the history of the Winter Games.
The 29-year-old Jackson, a former cross-country skier who switched to ice shortly before the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, joined American Shani Davis as the only black athlete to win medals in speed skating at the Olympics.
Now she wants others to go their way into a sport that doesn’t attract attention in the United States.
“I just hope it brings something to the sport,” she said. “I always try to be a good example.”
Silver went to Miho Takagi of Japan, and Angelina Golikova of the Russian team won bronze.
Gold Jackson arrived after she slipped on trials in the US and shockingly took third place, putting her Olympic team place at risk.
But teammate Brittany Bowe, another skater from Ocala who finished first in the tests, gave up a place in the 500 to ensure that Jackson will be able to participate in Beijing.
“She made a great sacrifice for me,” Jackson said. – I will be grateful to her forever.
As it turned out, the Americans got third place in the 500 when the final calculations were made, so Bow also got the right to skate. She finished 16th.
Two close friends hugged after Jackson won gold.
“She hugged me and we cried,” said the winner. “She said she was really proud of me and I said thank you very much.”
Jackson rode in the penultimate of 15 pairs with a time of Takagi 37.12 – set about half an hour earlier in the fourth pair – in her field of vision.
In US courts, she did not think about this mistake.
“It’s not something you can focus on,” Jackson said. “It was a coincidence.”
Jackson got off the line and was during Takagi when she turned hard in the first turn. She continued her speed through the drive straight and into the last turn, fiercely waving both hands as she approached the finish line of the shortest skating race.
As soon as her skates crossed the rice, Jackson’s head turned to the scoreboard.
She smiled broadly when she saw “1” near her name. Her coach, Ryan Simabukuro, pumped her hands and clapped her hands as she passed by.
There was one more pair left, but Jackson knew she was no worse than bronze.
A few minutes later the gold became hers.
“You are an Olympic champion,” Simabukuro told her.
Jackson sat on the platform along the backyard field, shedding a few tears, bowing her head.
No doubt she also reflected on her wonderful journey.
The roller skater and roller skater knew she would have to trade her wheels for blades if she wanted to go to Olympic glory.
Having made the transition a few months before the Games in Pyeongchang, she studied so quickly that she won a place in the US national team. She finished 24th in the 500th, but it was clear she barely used her potential.
During the current World Cup season, Jackson suddenly became one of the best sprinters in the world. She won four of the eight 500 races – the first black woman to also win one of these titles – and came to the Olympics as one of the favorites.
“When I won the first World Cup, I said,‘ Okay, that’s amazing. Let’s see where it goes, ”Jackson recalled. “Then I won another one and thought, ‘Well, maybe I can do it.’
She justified her bills in Beijing by becoming the first American to win an individual Olympic medal since 2002.
“Words can’t explain how proud I am of her,” Bowe said. “I knew she had a chance to do something really special, and she just showed the world why she deserved to be here.”
Jackson grabbed the American flag and made a victory circle around the oval of the ice ribbon, stars and stripes hovering over her head.
“It was a wild trip,” she said, “but it makes it even sweeter.”
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