The 26-year-old Olympic champion joins the elite group his father tried to become a part of more than 30 years ago

By Blake Bakkila
Updated August 21, 2016 10:15 AM
Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty

Matthew Centrowitz had a history-making performance on Saturday when he won the men’s 1,500-meter race in Rio. His win marks the first time an American has won gold in the metric mile since Mel Sheppard in 1908, according to the Team U.S.A. website. He now joins only two Americans among the Olympic champions for the 1,500-meter event.

Centrowitz’s father, Mathew Centrowitz, Sr., who competed in the same event in 1976, was there to support his gold medal-winning son.

Centrowitz sees his father as one of his inspirations, and even has a tattoo on his chest that says, “Like Father, Like Son.”

“I felt my dad was a huge reason [for] my success,” Centrowitz said. “I wouldn’t be here without him, he brought me to the sport, whetted my appetite year in and year out. We have the same name, both went to Oregon, both school and record holders, sociology major, the list goes on.”

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Centrowitz will add one more commonality to the father and son duo’s long list of similarities: ink. The 2016 Olympic champion said his dad promised to get a tattoo in his honor if his son made it on the podium.

“A couple of months ago, he said, ‘If you get a medal, I’ll get a tattoo as well. Depending on the color, the more say you’ll have,’ ” Centrowitz said. “I’m thinking, ‘Like son, like father.’ ”

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After his win, Centrowitz could not believe what had happened – and looked to his father to celebrate.

“On my victory lap, I saw my dad and my sister on the backstretch,” Centrowitz said. “I looked at my dad and I yelled out, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”

His dad expressed similar amazement in response. “And then I said, ‘Are you kidding me’ again and we just kept going back and forth,” said Centrowitz. “It hasn’t sunk in. I think we’re both absolutely astonished right now.”