It looks like African-American women are about to dominate speed skating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. In fact, a 25-year old long-track speed skater just qualified for the U.S. team a little over a week ago. She placed third in the 500-meter race with a time of 39.22 seconds (the first time) and 39.04 seconds (the second time). The kicker is that she’s only been speed skating for four months!
Erin Jackson is a former roller derby skater and said that she “…really wasn’t expecting any of this, just coming in as a newbie…” To be clear, Jackson wasn’t just your average roller derby skater. She was a three-time roller sports Athlete of the Year.
Historically, speed skating and most other Winter Olympic sports have been devoid of African-Americans or people of color. This year, however, that is not the case. In speed skating alone, there are three black athletes. The aforementioned Jackson and Maame Biney, a 17-year old speed skater who became the first black woman to qualify for the speed skating team, will join speed skating legend Shani Davis in South Korea starting February 9th.
Shani Davis, a Chicago native, became the first African-American to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speed skating team in 2002. He then went on to become the first African-American to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 2006. He is 35 years old, has a total of 27 overall medals from international competitions, and this year marks his fifth straight appearance in the Winter Olympics.
Let’s show our support for these athletes and all other athletes in the Winter Olympics. Let’s also remember that every athlete in the Winter Olympics deserves support. Each overcame obstacles, no matter what they were, to get there. We wish all of them a safe Winter Olympics and may everything go peacefully.