Bruce Jenner
From the Aug. 9, 1976, issue of TIME TIME

Bruce Jenner Was 'The World's Greatest Athlete'

Sep 23, 2014

Kris Jenner, matriarch of the Kardashian clan, has officially filed for divorce from husband Bruce Jenner, after decades of marriage and about a year of separation.

But don't be too sad for the Keeping Up with the Kardashians stars: she's got her momager empire to keep her busy, and he's got his Olympic memories. Though she's a much bigger presence in the reality-television world for which they're best known these days, we would like to take this opportunity to remind readers that he was a celebrity first — and not just a celebrity. In the Aug. 9, 1976, issue of TIME, the Olympic athlete was lauded as the greatest sportsman on Earth:

Cheered on by a wildly whooping and whistling crowd of 70,000, the United States' Bruce Jenner grimaced his way across the finish line late last Friday afternoon to claim the one Olympic honor more precious than gold: the title of "the world's greatest athlete."

With the waning light shining on his flapping chestnut hair, the beautifully sculpted Jenner had powered his way through the 1,500 meters, the last of the ten labors that make up the taxing, two-day decathlon competition. Too uproariously happy to notice that he had left several contestants crumpled about him in pain on the track, Jenner jogged, danced and leaped through his victory lap. Then embracing his tearfully grinning wife Chrystie, he exulted: "It's all over. We did it!" With the single-minded ambition that distinguishes Olympic champions—a characteristic that the two-week extravaganza in Montreal brought vividly to an audience of a billion people—the 26-year-old Jenner had achieved a goal set four years ago at Munich: that he would beat Soviet Champion Nikolai Avilov in 1976.

A fierce beating it was. By the end of the first day, the only question that remained was by how much Jenner would break Avilov's world record of 8,454. The powerfully built (6 ft. 2 in., 195 lb.) Jenner had run faster, thrown farther and jumped higher and longer than ever in his life. "I'm sitting pretty," he said, with typical elan. "All I have to do is show up tomorrow."

Jenner and his wife Chrystie separated in 1979.

Read more about Bruce Jenner's Olympic glory here, in TIME's archives: The Decathlon: Ten Tests for Two

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