The athlete’s father, Roger, said he had never seen his son cry before, according to NBC and USA Today. However, the 31-year-old snowboarder sobbed uncontrollably as he embraced his family after scoring an impressive 97.75 in his final run and clinching the top spot.
”Oh my God! I’m so happy! All that work. I’m so happy!” he said as he cried into the arms of his mother, Cathy.
White’s road to a historic victory — he’s the only three-time gold medalist snowboarder at the Games — in Pyeongchang has been a bumpy one. After winning previous first place wins in the 2006 and 2010 Olympics, he placed a disappointing fourth in 2014. He also suffered a bloody crash in New Zealand in October.
“I just felt so overwhelmed,” White told NBC after the men’s halfpipe win. “People talking about my age, my injury in New Zealand … It’s all worth it now.”
“It just means the world to me to come back from the defeat at Sochi to find the love and passion… and be able to deliver a run like this,” he told reporters at a news conference later Wednesday.
In addition to becoming the only three-time gold medalist snowboarder in Olympics history, White brought Team USA’s total medal count to seven, including the top spot in all four snowboarding events to date.
The win also places him in the record books for another reason: He nabbed the United States’ 100th Winter Olympics gold medal. “Lotta 100s in my journey here,” he said at the news conference, referring to the perfect score he earned last month to qualify for the Olympic team.
Of the possibility he could earn another gold, White told PEOPLE last week, “I’ve had it in my mind of what it would like, and I can visually see myself going through the run and seeing all the people that I know are coming out here at the bottom — like I can just see it.”
His moment in the spotlight was not without controversy, however. When asked at a press conference following his win Wednesday whether the settled 2016 sexual harassment suit against him would harm his reputation , White replied, “I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff.”
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But during an interview on Today Wednesday, White retracted the statement.
“I’m truly sorry that I chose the word ‘gossip’ because it’s a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today. I’m just truly sorry,” he told anchors Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie. “I was so overwhelmed with just wanting to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience.”
The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.