There must be something in the water in Ocala, Fla., the hometown of three Olympic speed skaters competing at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
“A lot of talent for speed skating has come from Ocala,” said Team USA gold medalist Erin Jackson.
Jackson earned a gold medal on Sunday in the women's 500m, making history as the first Black woman to win a speed skating medal.
For Jackson, her love for skating almost began by chance.
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Her mom happened to meet coach Renee Hildebrand at a diner — and Hildebrand invited Jackson to a skating event at a local rink.
“I just fell in love from there,” Jackson said.
The American speed skater first became interested in skating because of her mom, who roller-skated.
She got her first pair of plastic skates as a toddler.
In her hometown of Ocala, Jackson says the community was ecstatic over so many local athletes competing in the Olympics.
“The community back in Ocala is just amazing, especially since we have me and then Joey Mantia and Brittany Bowe. We all went to the past Winter Olympics,” Jackson said.
The three Olympians all trained under Hildebrand.
“She was an amazing coach,” Jackson said. “She coached all of us when we were kids up through adulthood.”