Randolph Ross competes in the men's 4x400-meter relay at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 6, 2021 in Tokyo.
It’s going to be hard for Olympic track and field athlete Randolph Ross to top the Father’s Day gift he gave his dad Duane last year: qualifying for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 after finishing third at Trials in the 400-meter.
That gift brought his dad — his college coach — to tears for the first time, calling it one of his proudest moments as a father and a coach.
“That was full circle for me,” Duane said, a former track athlete who competed in the Olympic Games Athens 2004 in the 110-meter hurdles. Randolph was three years old at the time and in the stands watching. “I don’t think he’s seen me shed tears his entire life, but at Olympic Trials, he did.”
“And it wasn’t just about him making the team and becoming an Olympian. It was about his goal. When he took his victory lap and came up to me and hugged me, and said, Happy Father’s Day, that will bring any father to his knees.”
Randolph — who has been competing in track and field since age five — went on to win gold in Tokyo in the 4x400 meter relay, with his dad beaming with pride from the stands.
The two will be together this Father’s Day at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Oregon. After the season concludes, Duane will transition to the University of Tennessee, where it was announced earlier this week that he accepted the track and field program director position.
The news came after 10 years of coaching at North Carolina A&T, where he was named the 2021 NCAA Coach of the Year and Randolph was a rising senior. But the younger Ross — and his sister, Jonah, a sophomore and fellow track athlete — decided to follow dad to Knoxville.
“It was hard leaving what we built for a decade,” Randolph said, who at 21 is the oldest of seven kids. Under his dad’s leadership, the men raced to a third-place finish at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships and ended the indoor season with a number one ranking.
With another year and a half of eligibility going into his new school, Randolph recently confided to his father that before he becomes pro he wants a team national championship, having come so close to the title in the past.
His dad can relate, having finished second at the NCAA Championships twice during his time at Clemson University.
“The decision to change schools was my dad’s to make, and my sister and I were going to support him, regardless,” Randolph added.