Ocala native aims for gold in Olympic speed skating

By Scott Johnson - Reporter, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter, Allyson Henning - Reporter

OCALA, Fla. - An Ocala native who spent days on skates in Jacksonville’s Roller Derby league is going for the gold.

Erin Jackson is competing in speed skating in the Olympics. She will compete in the 500-meter speed skating competition on Sunday.

Jackson used to be part of the Jacksonville Roller Derby league. Members of the league are some of her biggest fans.

“She was already a big deal in the derby world, that may not be a big deal to a lot of people, but in our world I have to stop to get autographs. I have to take pictures for fans. That’s fun. But this is a whole other level,” said Lewis.

Jackson moved to Jacksonville from Ocala in 2013 to start roller derby with the local league. She’s stunned all her old teammates by qualifying for the Olympics. Her roots were not glamorous. Jackson started skating in central Florida. As the years went by, she wound up competing in the rough and tumble sport of roller derby in Jacksonville.

“In 2016, she had mentioned she was going to try to ice skating...  She was like Bambi,” said Keri Lewis who is with the Jacksonville Roller Derby. She said Jackson was already known in derby circles, but never expected to make it this far, this quickly. There will be a huge contingent in Jacksonville rooting her on when she takes to the ice this weekend.

“Oh my gosh, it’s so exciting. She’s just so humble in the first place, so when she went, we had no idea. I had no idea she was going to win. She didn’t know she really didn’t think she was going to get in the Olympics this go-around,” said Lewis.

Her specific event is the 500-meter speed skating event this Sunday. She tells her friends that after she’s done with the Olympics, she plans to return to Jacksonville and get back into roller derby.

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