The American speed skater who gave up her Olympic spot for Erin Jackson was first to congratulate star when she won gold

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The American speed skater who gave up her Olympic spot for Erin Jackson was first to congratulate star when she won gold
Team USA speed skaters Erin Jackson (left) and Brittany Bowe. Wu Wei/Xinhua via Getty Images
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Erin Jackson is golden.

The American speed skater finished first in the women's 500-meter speed skating event to become the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the sport.

But just a month earlier, she was in grave danger of not even attending the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

The American speed skater who gave up her Olympic spot for Erin Jackson was first to congratulate star when she won gold
Jackson stands atop the podium. REUTERS/Susana Vera

The 29-year-old uncharacteristically slipped during her qualifying race at US Olympic Speed Skating Trials in January, losing precious fractions of a second off of her time and falling to third overall.

Only the first two finishers were guaranteed spots in Beijing, so Brittany Bowe— a Team USAveteran who finished first in the event despite specializing in longer races — offered to give up her spot. Though Bowe wound up qualifying after all, there was no guarantee she'd make the field for the 500-meter race once she relinquished her place to Jackson.

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Having competed in the event herself a few pairings earlier, the 2018 bronze medalist was on hand to watch Jackson skate an impressive 37.04 to take first with just two more skaters left to compete. Cameras caught Bowe watching with bated breath as Jackson sped through her lap, then throwing both hands in the air and cheering once she saw her friend's stellar time.

And fittingly, Bowe was among the first to congratulate Jackson on the career-defining victory when her gamble paid off in the form of a gold medal for Team USA. She hugged her longtime friend and fellow Florida native over the shoulders as the history-maker cried tears of joy.

The American speed skater who gave up her Olympic spot for Erin Jackson was first to congratulate star when she won gold
Bowe hugs Jackson after the latter won her first Olympic gold medal. Wu Wei/Xinhua via Getty Images

The pair embraced again after Jackson regained her composure following the flood of emotions from her historic feat:

Before the games,Jackson told Insiderthat she wants "to see Brittany Bowe with a gold medal around her neck" when all is said and done in Beijing.

"And I want her to see me with one, too," she added.

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Jackson held up her end of the deal. Bowe will have one more chance to fulfill her side of the prophecy as she skates the 1000-meter final Thursday at 3 a.m. EST.

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