I met Caitlyn Jenner back when the name was Bruce Jenner. I was a high-level discus thrower living in San Jose. Back then, if you were a thrower, you lived in San Jose. Track was a serious sport in that area.
It was a phenomenal atmosphere to be a part of. On a day-to-day basis I could go to the training area and be throwing beside Wolfgang Schmidt of Germany or Mac Wilkins, the U.S. Gold Medal winner from the 1976 Montreal Olympics. In fact, my roommate at the time was a guy named Mike Buncic who represented the US in the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992.
With all these incredible athletes around, it was impossible not to progress.
Jenner lived in the San Jose area as well. She hosted her own track meet: The Bruce Jenner Invitational at San Jose City College. It was at this meet in 1984 where I threw what would turn out to be the furthest discus throw of my career. It was not unusual to get twenty thousand people to watch a track meet at the time.
Roughly eight years earlier I watched -- like much of the world - as Jenner came across the finish line of the 1500 meter final event of the Decathlon in Montreal to win the gold medal. To put this achievement in perspective: The results Jenner posted in the majority of her events would have let her win virtually any local college-level track meet, against any entire team... by herself.
Someone handed her a small American flag after she finished and that image ended up on the Wheaties cereal box. You can't plan those moments out any better.
Her success was part of the reason I transitioned to track and field after my hockey career came to a screeching halt as a goalie at Malden Catholic High School (MA). MC was great at hockey... I was not, so it was on to track.
When I went up to the awards booth after my big throw, there was Jenner -- the legend -- just hanging out being the celebrity. Still presenting as male, she was "Classic California man," with the long hair and physique one would expect. It was a highlight of my career.
Unfortunately, most people only know Caitlyn for her more recent celebrity status as part of the Kardashian train wreck... I mean, TV show.
My daughter texted me a photo of the cover of Vanity Fair with Caitlyn on the cover. At first, I had no idea who it was. Was she sending me this because her friend's name was Caitlyn? Was there a caption I couldn't read? When I opened it up and saw the full photo along with the magazine headline I was floored.
Caitlyn looks great! I can say that with all honesty.
I cannot image the bravery it took to go through a change like this under such massive scrutiny. Every moment chronicled. Even Caitlyn's Wikipedia page has already been updated.
Unfortunately, Caitlyn's success and personal story may only serve as additional fodder to prolong the misery that is Keeping Up With the Kardashians series. Never have so many profited so much from the presence of one woman's famous derriere! Please make it stop...
Truth be told, the most talented individual on the cast was a man relegated to "back-burner" minor character status. This year, Caitlyn will turn 66 years old. Looking fit and no longer a minor story.
I was trying to find a way to segue this into a fitness thing... what could the point be?
Be your own person?
Take care of yourself because you never know when you will be on a magazine cover?
I guess the only real point is that people can show strength under a multitude of difficult situations. Just keep going and you will eventually find the support you need.
Good luck Caitlyn.
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