Brittany Bowe, 33, couldn’t bear to go to the Beijing Winter Olympics without her “skatesister” Erin Jackson, 29, so she did one of the most generous things an athlete could ever imagine. She gave up her spot in the Olympics and gave it to her.
Jackson had an unfortunate bumble in the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Trials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Friday in the 500-meter race. The misstep caused her to drop to third place on Team USA behind Bowe and second-place finisher Kimi Goetz.
Before the slip, Jackson was the No. 1 ranked skater in the event.
Only two U.S. women are guaranteed Olympic berths. Although there is a small chance that a third spot could be reallocated from another nation.
Bowe, who already qualified for the Olympics in the 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter thought Jackson deserved the spot more than she, so she relinquished it to her teammate.
“I didn’t want to have this moment without Erin out there,” Bowe said according to HuffPost. “I called her late this morning and said that I wanted to officially give her her spot. In my heart, there was never a question.”
“It’s the right thing to do,” Bowe told NBC Sports. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that she wouldn’t do the same thing for me.”
“Erin has a shot to bring home a medal u2013 hopefully a gold medal u2013 and itu2019s my honor to give her that opportunity. Sheu2019s earned it and she deserves it.”nn@BrittanyBowe on her decision to give up her Olympic spot in the 500m to her friend @ErinJackson480. @USSpeedskating @OnHerTurfpic.twitter.com/JaT58YCQ3s
— NBC Olympics (@NBC Olympics)
Jackson was moved by the selfless gesture. “I’m just incredibly grateful. Really humbled,” she said. Before she was given a spot on the team she was distraught over the misstep. “I couldn’t turn my brain off,” Jackson said. “It’s been really stressful, being in limbo for so long and just disappointed because I was really excited to show a good race.”
The Beijing Olympics will be the third for Bowe and second for Jackson, who became the first Black woman to make the U.S. Olympic long track speed skating team.
History in Milwaukee! Erin Jackson has become the first African-American female long track Olympic speedskater! #WinterOlympics #BestOfUSpic.twitter.com/ngt0aSes5l
— NBC Olympics (@NBC Olympics)
The two skaters are both from Ocala, Florida, and have forged a close bond over the years. They both started inline skating alongside three-time Olympian Joey Mantia.
“We have a photo of Erin standing between myself and Joey,” Bowe said, “and she comes up to maybe our chest. We go back very far.”
Bowe believes that her display of generosity is what the games are all about. “This is bigger than just me. This is the Olympic Games and it’s about Team USA and giving everybody the opportunity to showcase what they got,” she said.
Ultimately, Jackson hopes that this saga will end with the two of them winning medals together.
“I was kind of given this gift from a very close friend of mine,” Jackson said according to USA Today. “And it would be awesome for both of us to be able to stand on the top of the podium in our races and just kind of share that moment.”
The 2022 Winter Olympics will take place from February 4 to 20 in Beijing and venues near Yanqing and Chongli in the People’s Republic of China.