Before her ultra-public 2015 transition, Caitlyn Jenner made an indelible mark as a decathlon champion who took home the Olympic gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Games. In the time since the big win, Jenner has become a reality TV star—with shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and I Am Cait under her belt—and a new voice for addressing LGBT and, more specifically, transgender issues. However, her influence as a sports giant continues to live on.
The 66-year-old star shines on the cover of Sports Illustrated's July 4-11 issue, which commemorates her historic achievement. Photographed by Yu Tsai inside Jenner’s Malibu, California, home, the portrait shows the former athlete wearing a cream jumpsuit covered in gold sequins—pay close attention to her spot-on red manicure too—as well as her well-preserved gold medal.
Interestingly, Jenner, who opens up about her time at the Olympics and her recent transition to writer Tim Layden in the cover story, keeps the coveted pendant in her nail drawer, of all places. She also discusses why her work now is more important than the big 1976 feat. “Sports. It’s not real life,” she says. “You go out there, you work hard, you train your ass off, win the Games. I’m very proud of that part of my life. And it’s not like I just want to throw it out. It’s part of who I am."
She adds, "What I’m dealing with now, this is about who you are as a human being. What did I do for the world in 1976, besides maybe getting a few people to exercise a bit? I didn’t make a difference in the world.”
To coincide with the new issue, SI Films has released a 22-minute film, Jenner: 40 Years After Gold, that takes a look at the former athlete's journey through the past four decades.
Read the full cover story here, and watch Jenner: 40 Years After Gold above.