British athletics Olympian Colin Jackson has confirmed that he is gay in an interview on Swedish television.
Jackson, 50, who competed in sprint and hurdling, won a silver medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics and was crowned world champion twice.
Interviewed for the documentary Rainbow Heroes, Jackson was asked about his sexuality. He revealed that he was forced to come out to his parents when a 2006 tabloid tell-all story by a former partner was about to be published.
“I was waiting for them in the kitchen. They walked in and they sat down. My mother could see my face and I was quite distraught.” He revealed, however, that his coming out “didn’t faze them at all”.
He told the presenters of the show that he chose to open up to them in the interview because of the way they asked him. “It was a whole storytelling kind of thing and you were just interested in the way it affected me sports-wise, emotionally wise and my preparation.”
Jackson commented that in the past “lots of people have asked about it before and wanted to sensationalise [it]”.
This was the first time the Welshman has honestly addressed the issue. In 2008, Jackson denied being gay to the Daily Mail, telling the newspaper that he simply liked being single and that his ideal woman was actress Halle Berry.
Now retired as an athlete, Jackson works as a sports commentator and television presenter, especially for the BBC. In 2005, he appeared in the Strictly Come Dancing celebrity dancing show.
Interestingly, he has chosen to not address the subsequent media coverage of his coming out on his social media accounts.
The sporting world remains deeply conservative when it comes to athletes being openly LGBT, with few competitors choosing to come out due to fear of social stigma and of losing career opportunities.