Bruce Jenner - When He Was a Man…
Bruce Jenner Holding His Gold Medal (Original Caption) USA's Bruce Jenner, San Jose, CA., displays the gold medal he won in the Olympic decathlon here 7/30.
Jenner was one of the most famous athletes of the 1970s. He won a gold medal in the decathlon event of the 1976 Olympic Games. He was considered an American hero. Men wanted to BE him, and women wanted to be WITH him.
Jenner’s father, William Jenner, was a rugged man who had competed in the 1945 U.S. Army Olympics in Nuremberg, Germany. His father was extremely proud and was not surprised that his son would eventually excel as an athlete as he and Jenner’s grandfather had. Jenner knew early on what was expected of him. From an early age, he knew he was expected to become an athlete and reportedly also developed an athletic physique at an early age. Jenner reports that he had developed an athletic body as early as age 2.
Because Bruce Jenner had athletic tendencies similar to his father, much was expected of him. Jenner’s perceived daily reality, however, was that he was less than perfect. This belief was based on the fact that he had been diagnosed as having a learning disability and was quite possibly dyslexic. Jenner was always fearful that he would be singled out for his disability.
Jenner always felt as though he was inferior to his peers. That, in and of itself, compounded his fears. As a child, he was constantly afraid that one of his teachers would single him out to read aloud or perform in front of the class in some way.
When Jenner was in the fifth grade, he discovered his true ability as an athlete. His teacher had all of the students run and timed them to see who was fastest. As it turned out, Jenner was the fastest runner in the entire school. As a result, he received a lot of positive attention which fueled his interest in sports. In fact, sports soon became his niche in life.
Soon Jenner found himself involved in water skiing, basketball, football and track. He was soon regarded as a well-rounded athlete with natural abilities. Along with the accolades came negative comments. Coaches, especially, thought that he might just be too good to be true and that his many talents may be in conflict with each other.
Fast forward to 1972 to the Olympic games… When Jenner made the U.S. Olympic Track and Field team he said that he experienced “the biggest athletic thrill of my life”. He reportedly never expected to actually make the team but he did and the rest is history. As we know he went on to be a celebrated Olympian bringing home a gold medal in the 1976 Olympic games. It was quite a win for the U.S. especially since we were celebrating our bicentennial that year.
Jenner put everything he had into his athletic training and it definitely paid off. He was a perfect male specimen for the decathlon. Many women looked at him as the perfect male specimen for other “sports” if you get my meaning. His notoriety led to his image being plastered all over America and the ladies liked what they saw!
By all public accounts, Jenner was the total package. He was a celebrated athlete and a good looking, all-American guy. He turned his love of sports into a spectacular living. Truth be told though, Jenner was reportedly never comfortable in the spotlight. After all of his achievements he still lacked self-confidence. Ironically, he agreed to live in a public fishbowl when he appeared on a reality show with the Kardashians; odd behavior for a person who is self-conscious.
All these years later, we find out that Jenner felt trapped in his own body and never felt comfortable being a man. I don’t know who was more shocked, his male fans or his female fans. Although this may be politically incorrect, I will never think of Bruce Jenner as a woman. I only think of him as a gifted athlete.
Tags: 1976 | Bruce Jenner | Career-Defining Moments | The 1970s | The Olympics | TV In The 1970s
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