Caitlyn Jenner graces the cover of Sports Illustrated wearing a gold jumpsuit that matches her Olympic gold medal.

Caitlyn Jenner On Sports Illustrated

Jenner’s latest Sports Illustrated cover comes 40 years after she appeared on it upon winning the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. The cover, which was for the August 9, 1976 issue, featured Jenner – then Bruce Jenner – celebrating the historic moment. In her recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Jenner admitted that her feelings of gender dysmorphia were very much present, but that the work that went into winning that medal was the best distraction.

“They were always there. You just don’t deal with them. I put my energy into beating the event,” says Jenner. “The decathlon was the perfect distraction.”

Jenner added, “For those two days in July of 1976, I was the best in the world at what I did. On the other hand, the decathlon was my best friend, and that was over. I lost my beard.”

After winning the decathlon, standing naked with nothing but the gold medal on, Jenner couldn’t fight feelings of disgust towards the masculine body in the mirror. She chose to pose with the medal, which she now keeps in a nail drawer, on the cover of SI to separate the Bruce from the past from the Caitlyn of now.

“I was big and thick and masculine. The rest of the world thought it was this Greek god kind of body. I hated it. But it’s what I was given, so I just tried to do the best I could with it,” Jenner said. But the new SI cover: “It’s a picture that brings attention to this [transgender] issue. That’s the important thing. That’s why I wore the medal.”

While Jenner has been open about the pain and that she’s carried with her even before winning the Olympic gold, she’s aware that without that gold medal, without the fame that followed, she likely wouldn’t be able to be contributing to the conversation surrounding transgender issues in the way that she has.

“If I had not won the Games, if I was not on the Wheaties box and I hadn’t become this, um, this . . . celebrity, would all of this have happened?” asks Jenner. “Certainly life would have been different. The gender issues, I was never getting away from. But things would have been different. I would hope I would be doing some of the things I’m doing today, but certainly not on the same scale.”

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