Matt Centrowitz brought some impressive bling to Oriole Park at Camden Yards when he met with the media Aug. 29.
And why shouldn't he? The former Broadneck High School star had just captured the gold medal in the 1,500 meters at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro several days before, and the rare form of jewelry caught the attention of many members of the media who gathered around the 26-year old Centrowitz for an informal news conference during an Orioles game.
In fact, Centrowitz winning the medial was the topic of the moment that night, and he displayed a broad grin whenever it came up.
"It really hasn't sunk in yet," Centrowitz said. "It was surreal then, and it's surreal now [to] kind of refer to myself as an Olympic champion."
Centrowitz scored gold in a time of 3 minutes, 50 seconds and became the first American runner to win the 1,500 since Mel Sheppard in 1908. The Maryland native came close in the Olympics four years ago, finishing fourth in the 1,500 but took things to another level this time around.
During the American trials before the Olympics, Centrowitz set a new mark in the race, running 3:34.09. He then won this race with a strong performance to realize his dream of winning gold in the Olympics.
"It's every track person's life-long dream to be [an Olympic champion], and then when it actually happens, it's mind-blowing," he said. "When I crossed the line, I kind of looked up at the board and double- and triple-checked that I wasn't thinking that someone passed me at the last second. It hasn't really sunk in."
Victories aren't a new subject to Centrowitz. His father (another Matt) also ran in the Olympics and now coaches at American University in Washington, D.C. The younger Centrowitz became one of the most dominant Maryland runners in history during his time at Broadneck, in Anne Arundel County.
He won three straight Class 4A state championships in cross country (sophomore through senior years) at Broadneck before graduating in 2007. Centrowitz also took state crowns during indoor and outdoor track and turned in some strong efforts at other bigger events like the prestigious Penn Relays before becoming a solid national runner in college at Oregon.
"Everyone that's been there with me every step of the way, and obviously all the teammates I went to Broadneck with and all the teachers and people I've known my whole life ... I mean, they're the only ones that can obviously know what I went through," Centrowitz said. "It's hard to put into words."
Centrowitz said he loved being able to come through at the right time, probably one of the toughest tasks in track and field. A runner simply needs to perform at his or her best when it's time to shine.
"I'm not the only one that went through all the ups and downs," he said. "That's why it's so special. You have to perform on that given day. It's obviously rewarding."
As for the medal, Centrowitz joked that no, he had not slept with it every night since winning that race. But he does plan on putting it in some kind of safe to ensure it will remain with him for a long time.
Still, he enjoys showing the medal to people. It's a bit heavy, and the color and design both give Centrowitz something beautiful he will be able to keep and display for many years.
In fact, this is a symbol of his success and the work Centrowitz has put in during the years, and it's a big reason the runner will treasure it forever.
"This is a lot heavier than I thought," he said with a grin. "That was my first reaction. But every day when I take it out, and I show people, [that] doesn't get old."
And it probably never will.