Long jumper Jeff Henderson had one of the most emotional homecomings for any Olympic athlete after winning a gold medal and dedicating it to his mother.
Henderson, from McAlmont, Arkansas, gave his medal to his mother, Debra, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 10 years ago, at his childhood home after landing to a hero’s welcome at the local airport.
The 27-year-old track and field star delivered on a promise he made to her before he left for Rio de Janeiro, and was at a loss for words when he showed her his medal.
Footage broadcast by NBC affiliate KARK-TV showed the pair’s emotional reunion.
‘Hey, how you doing?’ his mother asked him. Afterwards, Henderson had a hard time explaining how much the moment meant to him.
‘Hard to explain, hard to put that in words,’ he said. ‘Emotions were like, I don’t know, hard to explain.’
Henderson has been open about his mom’s battle with Alzheimer’s and dedicated his gold medal to her after he became an Olympic champion last Saturday.
‘The medal is just for her,’ he told NBC. ‘She got sick when I was 17, 18 years old. It was hard for me to do that, and leave her there. Everything I did was for her. It was for God, for her and my family.’