It was an incredible gesture of friendship – when speed skater Erin Jackson unexpectedly failed to qualify for next month’s Winter Olympics, team-mate Brittany Bowe stepped in to rescue her long-time friend’s Beijing dreams.
Jackson, the world’s number-one ranked 500m speed skater, unexpectedly failed to make the US team after she slipped and finished third in Friday’s event at the Olympic trials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
So Bowe, who specialises in longer-distance races but had finished first in 500m qualifying, graciously decided to give up her spot.
“If it had to come down to a decision of mine, I knew she could have my place,” Bowe, 33, told US broadcaster NBC.
She also said of Jackson, 29: “No-one’s more deserving than her to get an opportunity to bring home Team USA a medal.”
On Twitter, Jackson thanked her friend.
“I’m incredibly grateful and humbled by the kindness of Brittany Bowe in helping me to secure a chance at reaching my goals in Beijing 2022,” she wrote on Monday.
“Definitely not the way I imagined qualifying for my second Olympic team, but I guess I had to one-up my story from the 2018 Trials.”
In 2018, Jackson qualified for speed skating in the Pyeongchang Winter Games having only switched to the ice from inline skating a few months previously.
Bowe and Jackson, who last year became the first black American woman to win a World Cup speed skating race, both grew up in Ocala, Florida and have known each other a long time.
Jackson said of Bowe: “I’ve always known what an incredible person she is and now it’s really showing.”
As for Bowe, her consolation is that she will still be able to compete in two other events at Beijing, the 1,000m and 1500m.