Fame, fortune and a sex change!
SPORTS TALK WITH JOSEPH ROMANOS
What a life Bruce Jenner has led.
He’s 65 now and hot news because he has declared himself a transgender woman. He was also involved in a fatal car crash this year and faces court proceedings over that.
There has hardly been a time over the past four decades when he has not been in the headlines.
Jenner was one of the best athletes ever.
After finishing 10th in the decathlon in the 1972 Olympics, he won the gold medal in that event at Montreal in 1976.
It was a memorable Olympics and stars like Nadia Comaneci, Alberto Juantorena, Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon and Michael Spinks and our own John Walker emerged with gold medals.
But Jenner might have been the most famous of all, the all-American lad who broke his own world record in winning the toughest event on the track and field schedule.
He always had his eyes firmly on fame and fortune.
Jenner trained relentlessly, eight hours a day at the San Jose track at a time when athletics was largely amateur. His first wife (of three), Chrystie, an air hostess, paid the bills while he focused on winning Olympic gold.
He intended to win, then cash in as the ‘‘world’s greatest athlete’’.
It became clear on the second day of the Montreal decathlon he was certain to win gold and after eight of the 10 events he burst into tears, so overwhelmed was he.
That evening he left his pole vault poles in the stadium. He had already entered the postathletics part of his life.
Jenner devoted himself to making money from television advertisements, movies and his aviation company.
He nearly landed the role of Superman that eventually went to Christopher Reeve, and replaced Erik Estrada briefly on CHiPS. In truth he wasn’t much of an actor.
After divorcing Chrystie in 1981, he married Linda Thompson, one of Elvis Presley’s former girlfriends.
When that didn’t work, he married Kris Kardashian, and they were together 24 years.
Occasionally Jenner turned up at athletics events.
I recall him working for NBC at the 1992 Olympics. He had a huge scar under his chin, the result of plastic surgery designed to maintain his youthful looks.
He tried basketball and auto racing and appeared on television programmes like The Weakest Link and The Apprentice.
But what really gave him the fame he’d craved was television reality series Keeping up with the Kardashians, which was first broadcast in 2007.
He wasn’t the show’s star, but he was famous, so was an asset.
Through everything, apparently, he has been battling with himself over his sexuality. It transpires he confided about his problems to close friends as far back as the 1970s.
There have been many well-known transgender people, including Renee Richards, the tennis player, Chelsea Manning, the US soldier and whistleblower, and our own Carmen Rupe.
But it’s doubtful there has been anyone as prominent as Jenner. The decathlon has produced big names like Jim Thorpe, Glenn Morris (later a Hollywood star), Bob Mathias, Rafter Johnson (later an actor and politician) and Daley Thompson.
Jenner has surpassed them all. His life, with all its dramas, has been lived in the spotlight. This latest twist is the strangest of all.
Famous athlete Bruce Jenner has declared himself a transgender woman.