Erin Jackson, the world number one in women’s 500m speed skating, is competing at the Beijing Olympics despite being placed shy of qualifying. And all thanks to a female teammate and an old friend who gave up her place for her.
American speed skating teammate Brittany Bowe, 33, decided to give up her place after winning first place in a qualifying race at the American Speed Skating Trials in Milwaukee.
Jackson, 29, landed third after plummeting during the 500-meter race. She crossed the streak in 38.24 seconds, placing a place one point short of Olympic qualification behind Bowe and Kimi Goetz.
Beau, who secured a place in the 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m during the trials, said her heart “sinked” when she saw Jackson slip, but encouraged her friend after the race by giving her a hug before they left the building.
“That evening, I said if it’s about me, if there’s anything I can do to get you on the team, you have my place,” she said.
“I was ranked number one in the world and no one deserves it more than her for a chance to bring home a medal for Team USA, and after this unfortunate slip I knew in my mind before that night was over so if it should come to my decision, it could have my place, Bo added.
Bowe hadn’t finished the 1500m qualifying race then, but after competing, she decided it would be best if Jackson took her place in the 500m.
She decided to make it official when the USA Speed Skating called her to tell her to come to the rink to announce the Olympic team lineup.
“I just had to make my official call because I couldn’t have had a party time without Erin,” Boo said.
Jackson praised her female co-star for her dedicated work in a series of tweets.
“Definitely not the way I would have envisioned qualifying for my second Olympic team…but I think I had to personalize my story from the 2018 trials. I am so grateful and humbled by the kindness of BrittanyBowe in helping me secure a chance to reach my goals at #Beijing 2022,” Jackson wrote.
Jackson, who made history in 2018 as the first black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speed skating team, said it’s a nice gesture she’ll never forget.
“It’s really hard to put into words, I’m so grateful and humbled and so happy. I grew up with Britney, I’ve known her for almost my whole life,” said Jackson.
She also described Bowe as a “wonderful teacher” and “a wonderful friend”.
Bowe, a former world speed skating champion, had known Jackson since the latter was 10 years old. They grew up in Ocala, Florida, where they competed in figure skating before moving onto the ice.
Bowe has also qualified for the 1000m and 1500m races, so she will continue to compete in the Olympics. This is her third Olympic appearance, while it is Jackson’s second.
“You can bet I’ll be the loudest cheering on her elliptical at 1000 and 1500 next month,” Jackson wrote in her tweet.
Bowe could still compete in the 500m at the Beijing Olympics. While the US currently has two quota sites, the US team can take third place if other countries accept or reject the quota sites.
The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics will be held on February 4.
Bowe’s selfless act is truly an amazing display of sportsmanship and true friendship. We wish these great athletes good luck in the upcoming Winter Games!
Watch the duo’s interview with NBC in the video below.
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