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Gold medal-winning speedskater reveals moment she shared with teammate who gave up her spot

Erin Jackson had a special moment with Brittany Bowe after winning the gold in Beijing Sunday. Bowe gave up her slot in the 500-meter race following the Olympic trials so Jackson could compete.

When speedskater Erin Jackson won the gold in Sunday’s 500-meter race at the Beijing Olympics, the 29-year-old wasn’t the only one overjoyed by her phenomenal finish.

That's because, although it was an individual event, in some ways, Jackson was racing for two.

Her spot in the competition came courtesy of another athlete — fellow speedskater and Team USA flag bearer Brittany Bowe, who gave up her own 500-meter slot so her childhood friend could have it instead.

Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 9
Speedskater Erin Jackson and Brittany Bowe of the United States embrace after the women's 500-meter on Sunday.Douwe Bijlsma / Getty Images

Moments after Jackson left the icy track Sunday, the two shared a hug and a few words spectators couldn’t quite hear.

“I think it was mostly hugging and tears,” Jackson explained to TODAY’s Craig Melvin Monday. “But yeah, she was just saying she’s so proud of me. And I was like, ‘We did it!’ Yeah, it was pretty wild."

"Maybe a young Black girl saw my race and she’s like, ‘Oh! Maybe I should try this.'"

Erin Jackson, after her history win in the 500-Meter race


And it was a fitting finish for Jackson, who made the most of her rare opportunity after stumbling in the speedskating trials in Milwaukee last month.

“Erin earned her right to be on this 500-meter team. She’s ranked No. 1 in the world,” Bowe, 33, told NBC Sports at the time. “No one is more deserving than her to get an opportunity to bring Team USA home a medal.

"After that unfortunate slip, I knew in my mind before that night was even over that if it had to come down to a decision of mine, she could have my place.”

Erin Jackson and Brittany Bowe
Jackson and Bowe at the Olympic Trials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in January. Bowe gave up her slot in the 500-meter to Jackson.Stacy Revere / Getty Images

And the rest is Olympic history — literally.

Jackson's 37.04-second run in the 500-meter not only marked the first Olympic medal of her career, with it, she became the first Black woman to win a gold in the event, as well the first Black woman to win a gold in any individual event at the Winter Olympics.

Jackson hugs Bowe after Bowe's gold medal win in the 500-meter. Wu Wei / Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

Now Jackson is looking ahead to the day she won't hold those distinctions alone.

"I just hope it sparks something," she said during her visit to TODAY. "Maybe a young Black girl saw my race or something, and she’s like, ‘Oh! Maybe I should try this.' That would be amazing, even if it's just one person."

Jackson's win marks the first time a Black woman has won gold in an individual event at the Winter Olympics.Wang Zhao / AFP via Getty Images

And she hopes to get the opportunity to inspire more future athletes when the 2026 Games take place in Italy.

"Yeah, I don’t think I can be done yet," she said.