Black Excellence at the 2022 Winter Olympics – The Hilltop

Elana Meyers Taylor holds the silver medal at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Photo courtesy of ABC News.

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics were filled with historic events by black athletes. Winter sports may be rare for some, but Erin Jackson and Elana Meyers Taylor have brought international attention to their sports with their record-breaking achievements.

This year’s Winter Olympics were held in Beijing from February 4 to 20. In addition to Team USA‘s exemplary success at every level, speed skater Erin Jackson and bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor captured the world’s attention. They both broke records and made history as black women during Black History Month.

Jackson competed in the 500m speed skating and won a gold medal, breaking numerous records. She became the first black woman to win a speed skating medal of any color and the first American to win the speed skating event since Shani Davis in 2010. According to NBC Sports, she is also the first woman American to win gold in speed skating since Chris Witty won the 1000m in 2002 and the first American to win gold in the women’s 500m since Bonnie Blair in 1994.

Jackson made her ice debut six years ago in 2016 and qualified for her first Olympics in 2018. It hasn’t always been easy for the speed skater. At the Olympic speed skating trials in Milwaukee, she tripped during her race, which nearly cost her dearly. Jackson came in third place behind Brittany Bowe and Kim Goetz. However, the United States only takes the top two to the Olympics in the women’s 500m. Fortunately for Jackson, Bowe gave way and allowed Jackson to compete.

“It’s never too late to start or try something new, and I’m so glad I took that step and tried ice skating,” Jackson said on The Today Show.

Leah Dawson, a junior television and film student at Howard University who wants to get into sports documentary production, said: “It made me feel like the stigma of black people not playing sports winter is broken. It inspires other young children who have never thought of trying a winter sport, to branch out because they see another black person excelling in this way.

Jackson wasn’t the only success story at the Olympics. Meyers Taylor is now the most decorated black athlete in Winter Olympics history. Her accolades include being the most decorated bobsledder in Olympic history, the most decorated American bobsledder in Olympic history, and the oldest American woman to win an Olympic medal. Surprisingly, that was never in his original plan.

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Meyers Taylor began pursuing the Olympic softball team for Team USA after playing at George Washington University. Her tryout didn’t go as planned, so she looked for a new sport she could do well in instead of giving up. She told Forbes that she declared her “intent to become an Olympian” when she was nine years old.

She was inspired to take up bobsledding when she heard about Vonetta Flowers, the first black athlete from any country to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. Meyers Taylor started as a brakeman and then moved up to pilot.

“It doesn’t hurt to try something new. To me, the definition of an athlete is that they can compete in any sport,” said Lawrence Aker, a Howard University senior aspiring to be a sports agent, “There are many athletes who have competed in several sports. If you know how to use your body and you know how competitive you are, no matter what sport it is.

In Beijing, Meyers Taylor won silver in the individual event and won bronze with teammate Sylvia Hoffman, who is also a black woman, earning her fifth Olympic medal. She won a bronze medal at the 2010 Games and silver in 2014 and 2018, according to The New York Times.

Meyers Taylor told The New York Times, “We want everyone to come out, no matter what color your skin is,” she said. “We want winter sports to be accessible to everyone, regardless of race, regardless of socio-economic class. I think the more diversity we have, the stronger our sport can be. So hopefully this is just the start of more and more people getting out and trying winter sports.

Team USA finished in fifth place in the overall medal standings. According to CBS Sports, the team came home with 24 medals, the most they have won since 25 medals at the 2006 Turan Games.

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Copy edited by Jasper Smith


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