Bruce Jenner did just about everything growing up: Football, basketball, track, water skiing.
Jenner eventually went to a small college in south-central Iowa, Graceland College, to play football. However, as a freshman, Jenner had a knee injury and did not play sports for a year. Jenner gave up football and took up the decathlon thanks to Graceland track coach L.D. Weldon.
Jenner qualified for the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials and was thrilled to earn a spot on the American team for the Munich 1972 Olympic Games. Jenner placed 10th there.
Jenner came home without a medal, but brought back a renewed sense of purpose. Over the next four years, Jenner continually impressed everyone with an unmatched dedication to training.
By the time the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games rolled around, Jenner was one of the favorites.
Jenner was the world record holder in the decathlon and had lost just once in 13 previous competitions – when Jenner failed to clear any height in the pole vault.
In Montreal, though, Jenner took things to another level, setting personal bests in the first five events – the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400-meter run. The second day featured three more personal bests, including the final event, the 1,500-meter run, as Jenner again set a new world record in the decathlon — and then jogged around the track one more time for a victory lap.
Having done everything possible in the decathlon, Jenner retired from competition after the Olympics.
“I have never run since the last day of the Games,” Jenner later said in an interview. “I knew going in that it would be the last time I would compete. On July 30, 1976, it would be all over – win, lose or draw. It was a big card to play, and it was hard, because it was sad. Here I was at the peak of my career. I beat the rest of the world, sang my greatest song, and will never sing again.”
While giving up the decathlon, Jenner remained front and center as a spokesman for several products (notably Wheaties cereal) and as a television commentator. Nearly 40 years after claiming gold, Jenner came out as a transgender person and changed her name to Caitlyn Marie Jenner.