Erin Jackson, Olympic gold medalist in speed skating, poses for...

Erin Jackson, Olympic gold medalist in speed skating, poses for photos on a visit to the Empire State Building in Manhattan on Friday following her return from Beijing to celebrate her success at the 2022 Olympic Games. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Team USA's Erin Jackson was feted at the Empire State Building on Friday morning for her Olympic gold medal-winning performance in the women’s 500-meter speed skating race earlier this week, posing for photographers on the building’s 86th floor observation deck.

"It’s really awesome," the 29-year old Jackson told Newsday. "It was cool to get in here."

Jackson said she thought she flew "straight" to New York from Bejing "about two days ago," and has been "meeting a lot of new people,[(doing] a few shows and a lot of media stuff." She has already appeared on "CBS This Morning" and NBC's "The Today Show," most notably.

"It’s been busy," Jackson said through a laugh. "A lot more fast-paced."

Which is something she is accustomed to. Jackson’s time of 37.04 seconds was 0.08 seconds better than Miho Takagi of Japan and 0.17 seconds better than bronze-medal winning Angelina Golikova of the Russian Olympic Committee.

And in compiling that time, she made history. Jackson is the first American woman to win a gold medal in speed skating since 1994. She is also the first American to win an individual medal of any sort in the sport since 2010, and, most importantly, the 29-year old is the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in speed skating.

Which she hopes could create a pathway forward for Black youth to participate in the sport.

"Hopefully it does a lot," Jackson said. "Just with visibility, with seeing people like you out there doing something, so yeah I hope it can make a difference."

Growing up in Ocala, Florida, Jackson’s training was in rollerblading and she did not begin speed skating until 2017. But she picked up the sport quickly, as she was a member of Team USA in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, finishing 24th in the 500 meters.

Four years later, the degree holder from the University of Florida in materials science and engineering has a gold medal, which she is looking to defend in Milan Cortina, Italy, in 2026.

"More training, more school," Jackson said. "Just getting ready for the next Games."

And what about that medal? Many medal-winning Olympians have said they could not bear to lift their medals off of their necks. What has Jackson’s experience been with her Olympic Gold?

"I take it off whenever I can," Jackson said. "It’s kind of heavy."

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