Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, February 21, 2019

AU celebrates Centrowitz’s gold medal mile

Son of AU’s cross country coach Matt Centrowitz wins first US gold in the 1500m since 1908

AU celebrates Centrowitz’s gold medal mile

He felt like family. To the millions of viewers watching Saturday’s Olympic 1500 meter final, Matthew Centrowitz Jr. seemed like a brother. Or a son. And for AU cross country coach Matt Centrowitz Sr. that’s exactly what he was. But for the rest of the audience, Matt Centrowitz Jr. was simply the young American who ran the fastest 1500m in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, smiled broadly when he crossed the finish line, wrapped himself in the American flag and flashed his famous tattoo: “like father, like son.”

As his son whizzed around the track, Centrowitz Sr. made an appearance on the NBC broadcast, donning his AU polo as he jumped and cheered with the expected excitement of a father watching his son race towards gold. Centrowitz Sr., the face of AU cross country, represented the Eagles, while his son, who shares his name, represented his country just like his father had done 40 years ago in the same event. After Centrowitz Jr. crossed the line, the smile in the father reflected the joy and pride in the son, as the two will add another international victory to the long list of accomplishments that follow the Centrowitz name.

For Centrowitz, the journey to victory has been long and hard earned, making the gold that much sweeter. Centrowitz turned professional one year before the London Olympic Games, after a successful, but shortened running career at the University of Oregon. In 2012, a spot on the podium escaped him by .04 seconds, but the young Centrowitz showed the world that he belonged at the top of the podium after crossing the line this year in the front of the field with a time of 3:50. AU head cross country coach and a former Olympic track athlete, Centrowitz Sr. told The Eagle that his son came into Rio more prepared than he did in London four years ago and trained injury-free, building his confidence and experience along the way.

“How it’s different is that London, obviously, he was four year younger, and four years less experienced, and this time, he’s stayed healthy the last four years and built a lot more confidence,” Centrowitz Sr. said. “He’s running a lot faster than he did four years ago when he went to the Olympics.”

Before the 2016 Games, Centrowitz placed second in the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia and 8th in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. Then, he cemented himself as an Olympic gold medal mile contender in the 2016 Indoor World Championships when he captured the win in 3:44.22. Centrowitz Sr., a two-time Olympian himself, said after his son won the World Championships, he had little advice left to pass on to his son.

“I don’t have to tell him anything, he’s already been an Olympian and he won the world indoor championship, and when you’re number one in the world, I don’t think there is much else [to say],” Centrowitz Sr. said. “I think all I have to is shut up and get out of the way, and that’s why I’m still here.”

In an interview with The Eagle before his trip to Rio, Centrowitz Sr. answered a question he has been asked before: will he get a tattoo matching his son? Will the father now follow the son and ink his body with the same words?

“It depends on if he gets a gold medal or not,” Centrowitz Sr. said. “I’m open for discussions, as a parent, I don’t close doors.”

Now that the gold medal has been earned, Centrowitz Sr. will undoubtedly be faced with the same question: Is it time for a tattoo?

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