The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeonChang, Korea is turning out to be a historic event for Team USA. Ocala, Florida native Erin Jackson earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic long-track speedskating team after just four months of training on the ice.
Jackson became the first Black women to qualify for the long-track team, coming in third in the 500m event during the Olympic Trials in Milwaukee.
In her first heat, Jackson clocked in a 39.22-second time. The second heat, she put on a 39.04-second performance, defeating Sugar Todd for third place.
“[Jackson has] been skating very well, but she’s only been in long-track [for] four months,” said a commentator during the NBC coverage of the Olympic Trials. “No one could have predicted she’d be dropping a second per week.”
The Florida native has experience in roller derby and inline skating. She was involved with both sports for 15 years and was a teammate for the Jacksonville RollerGirls and the Ocala Cannibals, NBC reports.
According to Cosmopolitan, Jackson earned the honor of the best roller sport female athlete in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
She is also attended the University of Florida, where she studied Materials Engineering and graduated cum laude in 2015.
“I really wasn’t expecting any of this, just coming in as a newbie, just trying to do the best I can,” she said, smiling. “I still don’t even know.”
Jackson has represented Team USA before in the realm of inline skating, reaching the junior World Championships. In the 2008 and 2009 championships, she won gold in the 500m event. Jackson also won a silver medal in the 500m road in 2009.
She returned to that event in 2010, earning a bronze medal. Jackson also competed in 500m track, landing a silver medal. In 2014, she competed in the Pan American Olympic Festival, getting a gold medal in the 500m and a silver medal in the 200m.
When the Pan American Championships came around, Jackson won a gold medal for the 500m.
The 25-year-old joins Maame Biney and Shani Davis in the Speed Skating sector of Team U.S.A. Jackson launched a t-shirt campaign to raise money so her father can attend the Winter Olympics.
Television broadcasts of the PyeongChang Olympics will start on February 8.