EUGENE, Ore. - Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner lunched at Marche on Friday after arriving in Eugene to attend a special event at the 2012 Olympic Trials at Hayward Field.
"I have not been back in Eugene in 36 years," he said. "1976 at the trials, won the trials and left and have never been back here."
"I'm coming back to track and field god's country right now. This is hallowed ground," Jenner told KVAL News. "Eugene had a really tremendous impact on me. Three out of the five greatest performances of my life happened here."
"1972, I came here as a nobody. Literally, a nobody - wasn't even ranked in the top ten in the U.S.," Jenner recalled. "I had to beat this guy by 18 seconds in the 1,500 meters and ran an eight second personal best time and beat him by 21 seconds and snuck into third and made it on the '72 team."
Jenner returned to Eugene for the national championships in 1975 and set a world record.
"Third time I came back was 1976 for the trials, broke the world record again and made it on my second Olympic team, so this is great memories here," Jenner said. He won Olympic gold that year.
"The decathlon's funny. I mean once every four years it comes around, it's a big event, but the times in between, the years in between, where there's a lot of hard work, I mean, that's how you prepare for this thing. It doesn't get a lot of exposure.
"But at the games, it's the big one, being able to make it and you know that title 'World's Greatest Athlete,' that started all the way back with Jim Thorpe 100 years ago.
"When I was competing, it was never about what am I going to do after this thing was over. I worked 6 to 8 hours a day, every day, 365 days out of the year for one thing, and that was to stand on the same stage as Jim Thorpe, as Bob Mathias, or Rayford Johnson, or Milt Campbell. It's a great fraternity and very difficult to get into.
"To me, that was the reward," Jenner said. "Anything after that, you know, I just happened to be the right guy in the right place at the right time and got into other business, in the television business and this and that.
"You know, it was all nice, but I made it on that stage with those guys and that's what means more to me than anything."
Ceremony at Olympic Trials
Jim Thorpe, winner of the first 10-event Olympic gold medal in 1912, will be represented by two of his sons – Bill and Richard – and will be honored posthumously alongside Milt Campbell (1956), Rafer Johnson (1960), Bill Toomey (1968), Bruce Jenner (1976), Dan O’Brien (1996) and Bryan Clay (2008).
Jenner and his wife Kris are subjects of the reality TV show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” The show peers inside the lives of the Kardashian and Jenner families.
Jenner and sons Brody and Brandon are staying at the Inn at the 5th, a new boutique hotel at the Eugene 5th Street Market.
The show’s crew will be filming the arrival and departure of the Jenners, as well as the opening ceremonies of the U.S. Olympic Team Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field, according to a spokesperson for the hotel.