Caitlyn Jenner was recently awarded with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPY (Excellence in sports performance yearly) awards. Dressed in a glamorous white dress, it was Caitlyn’s first public appearance after her sex-change operation. There hasn’t been, for a long time, anyone who has been this vocal and open about their transition. But as she said in her acceptance speech “We are all different, but it’s not a bad thing. And that it’s all about what happens from here (after the transition)”.
However, Caitlyn wasn’t awarded for her transition. Though it could have been a major reason but ESPY awards felicitate those who have performed well in sports. Yes, somewhere amidst her transition from Bruce to Caitlyn, the feat she achieved as a sportsperson in the 1976 Olympics had gotten lost. Though it was her last major accomplishment, it was undoubtedly a revolutionary one. She (then he) managed to bag the first position in the decathlon in Montreal, Canada, with 8,616 points. However, even after 25 years of achieving this milestone, Jenner was placed 25 on the world all- time list of athletes in 2011, and now, in 2015, almost 30 years after securing the numero uno position, she has been awarded this honour by ESPN.
While Jenner’s selection was praised by many, yet there were people who felt that Jenner had been out of action in the field of sports for many years now. And that the award could have been given to someone more deserving. Whether this argument is right or wrong is purely subjective, however, I believe that felicitating her with this award has a twin objective. Not only have they respected and appreciated her courage to come out openly as a woman, but also her courageous journey as a sportsperson.
In the 1972 Olympic trials, Jenner finished fifth and got selected for the Olympic team after her splendid performance. She went on to secure the 10th position in the 1972 Summer Olympics. Jenner, then, underwent extensive coaching to hone her skills as an athlete, something which was unheard of before. Practising day and night, under the guidance of expert Bert Bonanno of the San Jones City College track, with the likes of Andre Phillips, Millard Hamptom and John Powell, Jenner became the American Champion at the 1974 Decathlon and 2 years later, grabbed the gold at 1976 Olympics by creating a world record.
The acceptance speech she gave after receiving the award was a journey through her life. She walked up to the stage amidst a standing ovation, and talked about the hardships she faced in her journey. She also thanked her family and friends for staying by her side through thick and thin.
Have a look at her beautiful and moving acceptance speech, she sure is an epitome of courage for both sportspersons and those who wish to go through a transition like hers!
Image Source: The Viewspaper