Colin Jackson
Colin Jackson pictured at the 2012 IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona has come out as gay and spoken of how supportive his parents have been. Getty

BBC presenter and former 110 metre hurdle star Colin Jackson has come out as gay and has spoken of how supportive his parents were when he told them about his sexual orientation.

Jackson, 50, had been for years insisting in public that he straight because he had feared that parts of the media would want to "sensationalise" the story.

However the Welsh athlete said he wanted to reveal his sexual orientation on the Swedish programme Rainbow Heroes because the show was focused on portraying the effect of being gay had on him personally.

"The way you asked me, 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," he told the station STV.

In an interview with the Voice newspaper in 2008 he denied that he was gay, following reports by a tabloid newspaper which [published a story about how a gay airline steward had claimed to have had an affair with him.

He said his parents had been supportive when he told them, following reports in the press.

"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.

"My mum went: 'First of all, is the story true?' And I said it's true, so it's not like I can deny it. And then she went: 'Well, why are people so disgraceful? I just realised, I've got the best parents."

Jackson had a glittering athletics career in which he won an Olympic silver medal, and won world, European and Commonwealth titles. His world record of 12.91 seconds stood for over a decade. He remains the 60m hurdles world record holder.

He became a television personality, offering commentary and analysis for the BBC athletics coverage in Olympics and most recently in the London World Championships in August.

He also starred in the 2005 series of Strictly Come Dancing in which he came second.