Kerron Clement celebrates after winning bronze in the men's 400-meter hurdles final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 on Aug. 9, 2017 in London.
On National Coming Out Day, U.S. Olympic champion Kerron Clement decided to do just that.
The 33-year-old hurdler, who has won three medals across three Olympic Games, publicly came out as gay Friday during a Nike event at Los Angeles City College.
“I was tired of loving in the dark and being in the dark by myself,” he told Outsports, which first reported his announcement.
Clement has been a fixture in elite track and field ever since he set the indoor 400-meter record in 2005 while still a sophomore at Florida.
Three years later he made his Olympic debut in Beijing, winning a gold medal in the 4x400-meter and a silver medal in his signature event, the 400-meter hurdles. After finishing eighth in the hurdles in London, Clement won the Olympic gold medal in 2016 in Rio.
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Along the way, he’s also racked up four gold medals and a bronze medal at the world championships.
By coming out, Clement joins a growing list of high-profile athletes who have decided to share publicly that they identify as gay. In 2018, freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy and figure skater Adam Rippon became the first two openly gay male athletes to represent Team USA at the Winter Games.
Clement is believed to be the first U.S. Olympic male track and field athlete to come out while actively competing.
“I was hiding that part because of what society thought,” he said, according to Outsports. “But it’s OK to be that way. Nothing is wrong with loving someone of the same gender. Love is love. I have an attraction to men. It’s who I am and it’s what made me become the athlete I am today.”
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic Movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.