GOLD! Ocala's Erin Jackson wins 500-meter speedskate in Beijing Olympics
Editor's note: This story has been revised to note that in 2018, Erin Jackson became the first African American woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic long-track speedskating team.
Jackson's time was 37.04.
After the result was final, NBC cameras captured a joyful Jackson hugging her coach.
Jackson is the first American woman to win the event in 28 years, since Bonnie Blair won in 1994.
More on Jackson's win in Beijing:Erin Jackson wins gold, becomes first Black woman to win Olympic medal in speedskating
Gold, silver and bronze:Who leads the Beijing Olympics medal count? How each country performed at the Winter Games
Earlier in these Games:Ocala's Brittany Bowe places 10th in 1,500-meter speedskating event at Beijing Olympics
Erin Jackson has strong local ties
Jackson, 29, attended Shores Christian Academy, Howard Middle School and then Forest High School, where she was in the EMIT (Engineering and Manufacturing Institute of Technology) program.
From there she went to the University of Florida, where she graduated cum laude in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree from the Materials Science & Engineering program.
Erin Jackson: Olympic speedskater learned to fly in Florida
The heart-warming path to Sunday's race
For a short time, it looked like Jackson wouldn't even be able to compete in this race.
Earlier this year, during U.S. team trials in Milwaukee, Jackson had a slight slip in the 500-meter race. She finished with the third best time, and only two spots were available.
“I’m beyond grateful and humbled. I’m happy,” Jackson said at the time, according to an account in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Bowe later was able to secure a spot in the race, after all, when some countries were unable to fill their spots. Bowe also qualified separately for the 1,000- and 1,500-meter races. In the 500-meter race Sunday, Bowe had a time of 38.04.
Erin Jackson made the team in 2018, as well
Jackson was a surprise qualifier on the 2018 Olympic team. At the time, she had just four months of experience on ice. Like fellow Ocalans Bowe and Joey Mantia, she started as an inline skater and then shifted to ice.
Jackson also made history that year, becoming the first African American woman to ever qualify for a U.S. Olympic long-track speedskating team.
Jackson finished in 24th place in the 500-meter race in those 2018 Olympics, and her star has been on the rise since then.
"Jackson became the first Black woman to win a World Cup race in November. She took four of this season’s eight races in the 500, medaled in two others and is No. 1 in the world in the sprint race," the Associated Press reported.
She now lives in Salt Lake City with her dad so she can train. Her mom died in 2011.
Her dad and family and friends were watching Sunday morning from Park City, Utah, and NBC's cameras showed them cheering her victory.
They have speedskating in Ocala?
National media loves the story of the three athletes from a small town in Florida – yes, Florida – who have emerged as speedskating stars.
Jackson, Bowe and Joey Mantia all started as inline skaters under local coach Renee Hildebrand. They had celebrated careers but switched to ice so they could compete in the Olympics.
Bowe and Mantia competed in the 2014 games. And all three were on the 2018 team, with Bowe winning a bronze medal in a team competition.
Later that year they all received the key to the city during a celebration on the downtown Ocala square.
Social media reacts to Erin Jackson's gold medal-winning performance
Twitter and Facebook lit up Sunday morning after Jackson's big win.
Among those cheering online was Brittany Bowe's mom, Debbie.
National media also spread the word.
And the Gator Nation made its pride known.