Going for the gold. Caitlyn Jenner stunned in a gold sequin jumpsuit with her Olympic gold medal on the cover of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her iconic decathlon win at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. The I Am Cait star opened up about the last four decades for the story — “Caitlyn Jenner As You Know Her Now, Bruce Jenner As You Never Knew Him Then.”
These days, Jenner, 66, keeps the medal in her nail drawer and doesn’t bring it out too often. “It was great for the kids at show-and-tell,” she told the magazine.
“The decathlon was the perfect distraction,” she said of her gender dysphoria at the time. “Sports. It’s not real life. You go out there, you work hard, you train your ass off, win the Games. I’m very proud of that part of my life. And it’s not like I just want to throw it out. It’s part of who I am. What I’m dealing with now, this is about who you are as a human being. What did I do for the world in 1976, besides maybe getting a few people to exercise a little bit? I didn’t make a difference in the world.”
The morning after winning the decathlon, Jenner — formerly known as Bruce — stood naked in front of the mirror at her Montreal hotel, she recalls. “I said out loud, ‘What the hell am I going to do now?’” she said. Forty years ago, Jenner hated looking at her manly body and was constantly considering plastic surgery. “It disgusted me. I was big and thick and masculine. The rest of the world thought it was this Greek god kind of body,” she said. “I hated it. But it’s what I was given, so I just tried to do the best I could with it.”
Jenner revealed that she thought she would transition before age 40 (which would have been in 1989), but it just wasn’t the right time. “Little Caitlyn has been in there since I was this big,” Jenner said motioning about four feet off the floor. “Sometimes she raised her cute little head more than others. I was female inside, but I wasn’t an effeminate male. So I could hide easily in the male world. My life was distraction after distraction after distraction. Being a macho male was a way for me to try to convince myself that the woman living inside of me really isn’t living inside me. Obviously, it didn’t work.”
Her accomplishments now and the strides she’s made for the LGBT community mean as much to her as the Olympic gold. “Glamour magazine Woman of the Year and Olympian decathlon gold medalist,” she told Sports Illustrated. “This has got to be the greatest double of all time, right? It will never be matched.”
Many parts of her life are different now after her transition, but some things stayed the same — including her political views. “Just because I’m a woman now doesn’t make me all of a sudden liberal,” she said of praise for Donald Trump and her vow to never vote for Hillary Clinton.
Her conservative political views are just one example of how Jenner embraces her pretransition life. “I loved Bruce,” she said. “I still love him today. I like what he did and the way he set an example for hard work and dedication. I’m proud of that part of my life. But this woman was living inside me, all my life, and it reached the point where I had to let her live and put Bruce inside. And I am happier, these last 12 months, than I’ve ever been in my life.”
Although Jenner has transitioned in the public eye, she refuses to discuss whether she has had or plans to have reassignment surgery. “It’s nobody’s business whether I want to do that to my body,” she said.
The morning of the issue’s release, Jenner tweeted about her excitement to reminisce about the Games. “So excited to relive my gold medal journey with @SINow! Can’t believe it’s been 40 years,” she wrote.
For more on this story, check out Christina Garibaldi and Ian Drew discussing all the latest during Us Weekly’s Facebook Live News Update today at 1PM ET.