Bruce Jenner: Dyslexic Olympian
Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner is widely known for his athletic triumphs in the 1970’s and his public persona today. Along with his wife and extended family, Jenner can be seen weekly on the reality show, ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians.’ With over four decades of accomplishments, Jenner is a legend in his field. Jenner also has the learning disorder, dyslexia, and speaks out about his struggles in order to inspire the dyslexic community. Jenner is a shining example of success in the face of adversity.
Growing Up Jenner
Born William Bruce Jenner on October 28th, 1949, the future track star was raised in Mount Kisco, New York. His father was a World War II veteran turned tree surgeon, and Jenner and his three siblings relocated frequently. In Jenner’s early years of schooling, he had trouble with reading and writing, and feared going to school. He would daydream in class and receive poor marks on assignments and exams, while his misunderstanding teachers wrote him off as lazy. Jenner failed second grade and was tested for glasses, only to find out his eyesight was a perfect 20/20.
Jenner continued to struggle with his classes, but quickly realized his unique abilities outside of academics. “In the fifth grade I discovered something I could do better than the other kids. One day the teacher set up a bunch of chairs, and she had every one run to the chairs and back while she timed us,” Jenner recalls. “I had the fastest time in the whole school!”
Jenner was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia in junior high, where he could finally get treatment and support for his difficulties. “I always felt that my greatest asset was not my physical ability, it was my mental ability,” he says of his diagnosis. He attended Sleepy Hollow High School before transferring to Newtown High School in Connecticut.
Jenner’s Rise to Sports Stardom
Jenner was granted a football scholarship to Graceland College after high school, but suffered a knee injury and decided to pursue track and field. Under the tutelage of his coaches, Jenner placed fifth in his first decathlon. He set off for the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, Germany, and placed tenth in the decathlon.
Determined to win the gold medal, Jenner began a rigorous training program at the San Jose City College track. His regime proved to be a success and he emerged with the gold at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. Jenner’s score set a world record with 8,616 points. He received the James E. Sullivan Award for Top Amateur Athlete and became the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 1976.
“If I wasn’t dyslexic, I probably wouldn’t have won the Games,” Jenner says. He attributes his success towards working more diligently than his competitors.
Jenner was inducted into the United States National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1980. He continued his winning streak with inductions into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame and the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1986. The Connecticut Sports Hall of Fame recognized Jenner’s achievements in 1996, and he was inducted into the San Hose Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Bruce Jenner: The Actor
Jenner starred in 1980’s ‘Can’t Stop the Music,’ a musical comedy about the disco group, The Village People. That year, he appeared in the television movie ‘The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story.’ 1981 saw a second TV movie for Jenner, titled ‘Grambling’s White Tiger.’ Jenner also appeared as a police officer in the series, ‘CHiPS,’ for six episodes.
Jenner turned to non-scripted work after his acting received unfavorable reviews. He competed in game shows such as ‘Celebrity Family Feud,’ and ‘Lingo.’ Jenner appeared as himself in the reality show ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’ He frequently guest hosts on ‘Good Morning, America.’
More notably, Jenner has been a pivotal figure in the E! series ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians,’ since 2007. With his wife of 20 years, Kris, their two daughters, and Kris’ six children from previous marriages, the family has built an empire and successful businesses through their on-screen antics. Jenner was named Esquire magazine’s ‘Father of the Year’ in 2012.
Bruce Jenner’s Other Endeavors
Jenner became a household icon after his picture was featured on the box for Wheaties cereal. A candid photo of Jenner running in the Olympics was displayed with the caption, ‘The Breakfast of Champions.’ Jenner and General Mills, the maker of Wheaties, became involved in a false advertising lawsuit, which was quickly dropped after the athlete testified that he eats Wheaties throughout the week. Jenner’s likeness also appears in the ‘Olympic Decathlon’ and ‘Bruce Jenner’s World Class Decathlon’ video games.
In the 1980’s, Jenner competed in the International Motor Sports Association GT series. He finished fourth and second with his trusty Mustang at 1986’s consecutive races in Sebring, Florida.
Retired from racing today, Jenner’s hobbies include driving remote control cars and helicopters. He is also the head of Bruce Jenner Aviation, a company that sells aircraft supplies to corporations.
Jenner: The Dyslexic Activist
Jenner has been outspoken about his learning disorder throughout the length of his career. He volunteers for the Special Olympics and is involved with the National Dyslexia Research Foundation. Jenner has written multiple books on his journey to stardom while dealing with dyslexia, including 1999’s ‘Finding the Champion Within: A Step-by-Step Plan for Reaching Your Full Potential.’ He is also the host of the documentary series, ‘Demystifying Dyslexia.’
Throughout his legendary achievements, Jenner has stated that he’d like to be remembered most as a good father. He tells young dyslexics to seek out their true calling. “Look at dyslexia as a gift,” Jenner urges. “Don’t worry about it. You won’t die from it.”
Bruce Jenner triumphed through his dyslexia and emerged a successful figure and role model. Jenner’s story is one of achievement through perseverance. He serves as a reminder to the dyslexic community to never give up.