A couple hundred people turned out at Little Rock's Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport Wednesday to give a hero’s welcome to Jeff Henderson. He won a gold medal in the Men's Long Jump at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday.
Cheerleaders from Henderson’s alma mater, Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood, joined the marching band, coaches, athletes and Henderson’s friends and family for the welcome. Talking to reporters, Henderson said he was eager to get home.
“Rio was fun but I was ready to leave. So when I got done with my gold medal, I watched some people run… I was ready to get home and get back to the states, where I know it’s safe,” he said.
Security has long been an issue in Rio, a city beset with high crime rates. It was evident in the armed robbery of four American Olympic swimmers over the weekend. UPDATE: The swimmers' robbery may have been a fabrication.
Henderson grew up in the north Pulaski County community of McAlmont. He was the first Arkansan to win a medal in the Olympics since 2012, when Little Rock’s Michael Tinsley won silver in the 400 meter hurdles. Henderson’s was the first American Olympic gold in the Long Jump since 2004.
Henderson is a former high school football star and says he’ll be trying out for the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs this year. He says he also has his eye on the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.