Year
1976

Bruce Jenner wins decathlon

On July 30, 1976, American Bruce Jenner wins gold in the decathlon at the Montreal Olympics. His 8,617 points set a world record in the event.

The secret to Jenner’s success was his preparation. In the 1970s, most decathletes trained with other decathletes. Bruce Jenner, however, trained with some of the world’s best athletes in each of the 10 decathlon events. “If you train with a decathlon man,” Jenner told Dave Anderson of The New York Times in 1976, “you can’t visualize that you can do much better. But if you throw the discus with Mac Wilkins or throw the shot with Al Feuerbach, then they’re 20 feet ahead of me. You learn much more that way.”

Although the blond, chiseled, 6-foot-2-inch Nikolai Avilov, the world record-holder and 1972 Olympic champion from the Soviet Union, was considered nearly impossible to beat, Jenner’s intense training paid off at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. After the first day of competition, Jenner was in third place, 35 points off the pace and 17 points behind his rival. With all of Jenner’s best events slated for the second day, though, Jenner knew he could pull off a victory. He later admitted thinking, “If I am within 150 points of the leader after five events, I’ll run away with it.” On July 30, the next five events went exactly as Jenner hoped: He ran efficiently in the 110-meter hurdles, set a personal best in the pole vault, threw the discus and the javelin well and sprinted the last 300 meters of the 1,500-meter event to seal a win. Jenner then took an impromptu victory lap with an American flag before finding his wife Chrystie–who had supported him during his training by working as a flight attendant–for a congratulatory kiss. Avilov finished third, almost 300 points behind the new champion.

After his win, Jenner enjoyed the unofficial title of “world’s greatest athlete” and appeared in movies, on television and, of course, adorned a Wheaties® box. He was voted the 1976 AP Male Athlete of the Year. The 1976 Olympics was his last decathlon.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

England wins World Cup

In the first televised World Cup soccer match, host-nation England beats Germany 4 to 2 to win the tournament final at Wembley Stadium. In overtime play, England’s Geoff Hurst scored his second of three match goals to give Britain a 3 to 2 lead. In the dying seconds of overtime ...read more

USS Indianapolis bombed

On this day in 1945, the USS Indianapolis is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sinks within minutes in shark-infested waters. Only 317 of the 1,196 men on board survived. However, the Indianapolis had already completed its major mission: the delivery of key components of the ...read more

Watergate affair approaches climax

Under coercion from the U.S. Supreme Court, President Richard M. Nixon releases subpoenaed White House recordings–suspected to prove his guilt in the Watergate scandal–to special prosecutor Leon Jaworski. The same day, the House Judiciary Committee voted a third article of ...read more

Henry Moore born

English sculptor Henry Moore is born in Castleford, Yorkshire, on July 30, 1898. The son of a coal miner, he overcame early criticism of his work to become one of the most acclaimed sculptors of the 20th century. His majestic, semi-abstract sculptures of the human figure are ...read more

First legislative assembly in America

In Jamestown, Virginia, the first elected legislative assembly in the New World–the House of Burgesses–convenes in the choir of the town’s church. Earlier that year, the London Company, which had established the Jamestown settlement 12 years before, directed Virginia Governor Sir ...read more

Johnson signs Medicare into law

On this day in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law. At the bill-signing ceremony, which took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, former President Harry Truman was enrolled as Medicare’s ...read more

Nixon visits South Vietnam

During his first overseas trip as president–which included stops in Guam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan, Romania, and Britain–Richard Nixon makes an unscheduled five-and-a-half hour visit to South Vietnam. On the South Vietnam stopover, Nixon met with President ...read more

Chief Pocatello signs peace treaty

The Shoshone chief Pocatello signs the Treaty of Box Elder, bringing peace to the emigrant trails of southern Idaho and northern Utah. Pocatello was a Bannock Shoshone, one of the two major Shoshone tribes that dominated modern-day southern Idaho. Once a large and very powerful ...read more

Emily Bronte’s birthday

On this day in 1818, novelist Emily Bronte becomes the fifth-born of the six Bronte children, three of whom will grow up to write fiction. The Bronte family lived in the remote village of Haworth on the bleak Yorkshire moors and were largely left to their own devices after the ...read more

Blair Witch Project released

On this day in 1999, The Blair Witch Project, a low-budget, independent horror film that will become a massive cult hit, is released in U.S. theaters. Shot with shaky, handheld cameras, the documentary-style movie told the story of three student filmmakers who disappeared into ...read more

Fighter jet collides with passenger plane

A mid-air collision between a Boeing 727 and a fighter jet in Japan kills 162 people on this day in 1971. The military plane was flying without radar. All Nippon Airways Flight 58 was traveling from Chitose Airport in Hokkaido to Tokyo, filled largely with members of a group ...read more

Man charged in murder of Megan Kanka

Jesse Timmendequas is charged with the murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka in New Jersey. Kanka’s death inspired Megan’s Law, a statute enacted in 1994 requiring that information about convicted sex felons be available to the public. Versions of Megan’s Law have been passed in ...read more

Summit meeting in Helsinki begins

Thirty-five nations, called together by the United States and the Soviet Union, begin a summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland, to discuss some pressing international issues. The meeting temporarily revived the spirit of detente between the United States and Russia. By 1975, the ...read more