Caitlyn Jenner has become one of the most inspirational women on the planet, being crowned as Glamour's Woman of the Year in 2015. Formerly known as Bruce Jenner, she has gone from being an Olympic gold medalist in decathlon to a world famous TV personality since her highly publicised gender transition in July 2015. Since becoming Caitlyn, the multi-talented superstar has been deemed the most famous transgender woman ever.
Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as William Bruce Jenner, was born in Mount Kisco, New York City to parents Esther Ruth and William Hugh Jenner. Jenner has two sisters named Lisa and Pam, and a younger brother called Burt who succumbed to a car accident in Canton, Connecticut. The incident occurred in 1976, shortly after Jenner won a gold medal in the Olympic games.
She was diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age, but still did well at school, attending Sleepy Hollow High School in New York for her freshman years and later joining Newtown High School in Newtown, Connecticut for her junior and senior years, and graduating in 1968. Jenner was awarded a football scholarship securing her a place in Graceland College, currently known as Graceland University located in Lamoni, Iowa. However, she was forced to stop playing football soon after getting a severe knee injury. The Graceland track coach L. D. Weldon recognized her ability to play decathlon and was impressed by her performance at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa in 1970 where she reached fifth position. In 1973, she graduated from the Graceland College getting a degree in Physical Education.
In 1972, Jenner was in fifth position behind athletes Steve Gough and Andrew Pettes in the Eugene Olympic Trials in Oregon. The register guard at the Olympics was surprised by her performance, prompting him to enquire exactly who Jenner was. She ran the last lap extremely fast to make up a 20 seconds gap on Gough in the men’s 1500 meters. She finished in tenth position in the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich. Mykola Avilov, who won the title, inspired Jenner to get serious about the sport and start a strict training regime, saying it was the first time in her life that she knew her goals. She started training immediately, running through the entire streets of Munich, Germany training for the coming games. She trained for 6-8 days a week for the following years, even whilst the the 1976 games took place.
During the night Jenner used to sell insurance earning her $9,000 a year, whilst she did her training during the day. Her dedication and training tactics were unheard of at this time, with professionalism in the Olympics not being fully embraced during the time. Jenner spent most of her time training at the San Jose City College track as well as the San Joe State University track. Bonano Bert was her coach at the city college, a place of training known as the ‘hotbed’ of training since the majority of successful athletes such as Andre Phillips and Mac Wilkins also did their training there. Jenner was skilled at javelin, discus, hurdles, 1500 meters and pole vault.
Jenner was featured as a cover of the 1974 August issue of the Track and Field magazine after winning a decathlon event for men in the same year. She also won a gold medal at the French national championship when she was on tour. In the 1975 Pan Africa Games, she also scooped a gold medal. She then went on to make a tournament record at the meet of Poland/U.S.A and U.S.S.R at the triangular meet in Oregon, Eugene in August 1975. Her record was 8,538 points, which was previously held by Avilov, with her also achieving this in the 1976 Olympic trials. She won 12 decathlons out of the 13 she took part in. The only loss was the AAU National Championships in the Pole Vault.
At the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games, she performed very well. She had become in the second position behind a West Germany Athlete Guido Kratschmer. Those were her five first day personal best at the decathlon. On the rest of the days, she performed excellently in the other games she had skills in. At the final event, she gave another personal best in the 1,500 meters setting herself a new personal record. She had a last lap sprint to reduce the 50 meters distance between her and the event favorite Litvinenko. Soviet Leonid Litvinenko came second as Jenner took home the gold medal gaining a record of 8,616 points. The race was aired live on national television, with Jenner catching the attention of people all over the world. During the event, Jenner started a tradition that has since been embraced by several athletes; she grabbed the American flag from a fan during the last lap to celebrate her victory. After her massive success, she made the announcement that she was quitting vaulting poles to concentrate on the other games. She had made the decision four years earlier in 1972, where she chose to dedicate to her time leading up to the 1976 Olympics. Jenner was happy to move on with the rest of her life after achieving her dreams in the pole vault.
Jenner then became a national hero who mentored many upcoming athletes. She received many awards including the James E. Sullivan award as a reward of the amateur athlete, and was named as the Male Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in 1976. In 1980, Daley Thompson broke Jenner’s 1976 world record, but Jenner’s legacy still lived on. In 2011, the world all-time list ranked Jenner at number 25, and the American all-time list ranked her ninth. After the coming of the world record holder, her position in America was reduced to number 10 and the world ranking of number twenty-six. In 1980 she was placed into the hall of fame in the national track and field, as well as the hall of fame for the Olympics in 1986. In 1994, she was enlisted in the Bay Area Hall of Fame and the Connecticut Sports Hall of Fame. San Jose City University has celebrated her by having an annual competition named Bruce Jenner Invitational as well as listing her in their hall of fame.
Aside from her sporting career, Jenner has had much success in television and film. Her first on-screen appearance was in the Village People comedy film Cannot Stop the Music in 1980. However, the movie did not perform as well as expected, with Jenner going on to be nominated as the worst actor at the Golden Raspberry Awards. The film also took earned Worst Picture at the same awards. Despite this, her television career has had a positive impact on her life, starring in TV film The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story in 1980 and Grambling’s White Tiger in 1981.
Police series CHIPS took Jenner on as a semi-regular cast member for six episodes as Officer Steve McLeish. She stepped in when original actor Erik Estrada was stuck in a contract disagreement between MGM and NBC. Jenner also appeared in an episode of Silver Spoons title ‘Trouble with Words’, where her struggle with dyslexia was acted out in a story line. Another TV appearance from the former Olympian was in the Learn to Read series. Her Olympic win has also been used to inspire video game Olympic Decathlon in 1981. She has also appeared in game shows and reality show such as The American Sportsman alongside Grits Gresham. In 1990, she was chosen a host for infomercial ‘Stair Climber Plus’. She has since starred in other reality or game shows including an Olympic athletes special of The Weakest Link, The Apprentice, Skating With Celebrities, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me out Of Here and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. She was also a guest judge on Pet Star on Animal Planet, as well as on Celebrity Family Feud alongside with the Kardashian family. Her fame grew even stronger when she appeared on Keeping Up with the Kardashians from 2007 as Bruce, alongside his then-wife Kris Jenner, as well as Kim, Rob, Khloe, Kourtney, Kylie and Kendall.
Caitlyn has won the hearts of many during her lifetime, both on the field and on television. She made headlines in 2015 when she announced her decision to go through a gender transition. She opened up on her status as a transgender woman in an interview with Diane Sawyer, talking of how she endured her gender dysphasia since she was young. Bruce had been taking a hormonal replacement therapy which he stopped when he started dating Kris Jenner. As the years went by, Bruce knew he had to explore his gender identity. Caitlyn has openly said that despite her gender transition she is still attracted to women, and she is not gay. She has been recognized as the most known LGBT athlete and won numerous awards. Jenner revealed her identity of a transgender woman in April 2015 but went public with her decision in July in a cover story for Vanity Fair. Her name was officially changed to Caitlyn Jenner in September of the same year. Caitlyn aimed to speak out about her transgender journey to fight the oppression that transgender people undergo all over the world. She has faced criticism from many celebrities and fans, but has remained in a high spirit since and carried on being an inspiration to many.
Jenner’s religion is Christianity. Her political side is Republican and she thinks Donald Trump is in a better position of addressing women issues than Hillary Clinton. Her marriage life has been quite controversial. After graduating from Graceland, Jenner married girlfriend Chrystie Crownover, but they got divorced in 1981. They had two children called Burt and Casey Jenner. Jenner’s second marriage was in 1981 to actress Linda Thompson, with them also having two children named Brandon Jenner and Sam Brody Jenner. These two boys are talented and took after their father in the television and film industry where they have starred in reality show Princes of Malibu and The Hills. Their marriage ended after five years and they got divorced in February 1986. She later married Kris Kardashian in April 1991 and had two children called Kendall and Kylie Jenner. The couple separated in October 2013 and Kris filed for divorce in 2014. The divorce finally went through in March 2015. It is rumoured that their marriage ended due to Jenner’s transgender condition.
Jenner was in a car collision in February 2015 with animal rights activist Kim Howe. It was said that it was Jenner’s vehicle that ran into Kim’s car. Some of the cases about the accident are still in court today.
- Finding the Champion Within by Caitlyn Jenner
Bruce Jenner’s The Athletic Body: A Complete Fitness Guide for Teenagers–sports, Strength, Health, Agility by Bruce Jenner