The Incredible Story Of Michelle Jenneke After The 2012 Olympics
In 2017 it seems every professional sportsman or woman has a commercial life away from the sports field or arena, and Australian Michelle Jenneke is no exception. If anything Michelle is now known more for her off the track career than on it.
If you haven’t heard of Michelle, you will definitely have seen the video of her crazy ‘warm-up’ routine that she completes before every 100m Hurdles. We say routine, because unlike many other athletes who stretch and limber up for an event, Michelle dances!
Since 2012, when the cameras first spotted Michelle completing her ritual, the young athlete has become an internet sensation, a model and even a failure! Check out the life of Michelle ‘jiggling’ Jenneke!
Michelle was born in 1993 in Kenthurst, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, she was a normal girl growing up, and she loved her sports. At just nine years old she began training with the local athletics club and took up hurdling. Aside from athletics, Michelle ‘nickname Shelly’ was a keen player of soccer and Australian Rules, but hurdles was her love.
Recently Michelle recalled her time at the beginning of her career:
” I was a pretty active, happy and curious child. My parents tell me that I have loved running and jumping things since I was a toddler, but my first memories of hurdling was at club competition at the Cherrybrook Little Athletics Centre when I was nine. I loved it from my first race because I remember thinking I could fly!”.
In 2010, Jenneke finished 1st in the 100m Hurdles at the Australian Junior Championships before going on to be part of the team that would break the Australian Relay record. Later in the year she got the call to represent her country in the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore, in which she finished with silver.
It wouldn’t be until the 2012 IAAF World Championships, that the world would be introduced to the Australian hurdler as she was spotted alongside her fellow competitors ahead of the 100m Hurdles heats. The cameraman caught Michelle doing something peculiar, while everyone else was limbering up and stretching, Michelle was doing something entirely different. The young athlete was dancing!
The cameraman panned straight to Michelle and as she was introduced to the crowd ahead of the 100m Hurdles Race she continued her extensive warm-up routine. She then went on to win her race and went on to finish 5th in her first World Championships.
Straight after the coverage, the short clip was posted online by a viewer and the clip went ‘viral’ overnight. Within a week the clip had reached over 19 million views! Cosby Sweaters, the website that posted her video after seeing its potential, crashed due to countless entries from all over the world. But this would just be the start of the fame rollercoaster for Michelle…
The Tonight Show
Jay Leno even featured the clip on ‘The Tonight Show’ and the teenager became an internet sensation! With production and broadcast companies desperate to talk to her about her infamous warm-up ‘routine’.
Origin Of The Dance
In an interview in 2013, Michelle was asked where the dance came from, but sadly she failed to release her secret, saying:
“I wouldn’t say that I really came up with it, It’s just something that sort of happened, someone got ahold of the footage and decided to post it on YouTube. And somehow it racked up a lot of hits. When I saw it for the first time, I thought it was funny…and random”.
In 2013, Michelle was ranked no.10 ‘most desirable woman’ on AskMen.com and she sensed an opportunity. She never planned to be a model, but she realised that it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to almost ‘cash in’ on her fame.
Michelle was then approached by Sports Illustrated to pose for the magazine, an offer she couldn’t refuse. She thought that she would be just doing some shots in her athlete kit doing ‘the dance’ but the magazine wanted more…
She was asked to pose for the infamous ‘Swimsuit issue’ with the editors and crew claiming she was a natural talent at modelling and she would definitely have a career in modelling if athletics didn’t work out. Model Kate Upton also featured in the issue.
Social Media Star
Thanks to her internet fame, Michelle soon become popular on social media and although she is focussed on her professional sports career, she is certainly a keen social media user and is grooming an impressive following. She currently has over 450,000 followers on Instagram.
In 2014 Michelle worked with an App creation company to launch the ‘Stretch With Michelle’ app for smartphones! The app was designed to teach safe stretching techniques for athletes. Jenneke was involved at every step of the process and appeared in several TV and magazine advertisements for it.
While all that was going on off the track, Jenneke was still making a name for herself on it with good performances both racing and entertaining! During an interview, she revealed that she has been performing her pre-race dance routine ever since purely because she became famous for it. She also mentioned that she thought that the public interest in her would stop, but it hasn’t!
People have always questioned as to what preparation Michelle does in advance, so that she is free to express herself in dance just seconds before a major race. She replied: “I always do a good warm-up session on the track before the race, by the time I reach the start line I am warmed up and excited to race”.
Top Gear Appearance
In 2014 Michelle featured in a special episode of Top Gear that was filmed specially for the Sydney Festival. Her segment of the show saw her race against a Nissan GT-R in a 100m race! Unfortunately Michelle was unsuccessful, much to Jeremy Clarkson’s delight!
In addition to her athletic and modelling careers, Jenneke has also been studying at University in Sydney. She has seen that her current careers may have a shelf life and has been studying Mechatronics in higher education as a potential plan b. Very clever!
There’s another reason to love Michelle, when she was just 19 years old, she voluntarily visited Tanzania to work in an orphanage for three months to help teach and nurture the young children every day!
Commonwealth 2014 Success
Jenneke was selected to compete for Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. She was youngest competitor to make the 100m Hurdles final, finishing fifth. Her time of 13:36 meant she set the second-fastest time in the history of Australian participation in the event.
Rio 2016 Failure
When the 2016 Olympics arrived in Rio, Brazil, Jenneke was a huge star but had yet shone on the world stage of athletics. The 2016 Olympics saw her as Australia’s big hopes for a medal. But unfortunately she failed to reach even the semi-final races. A huge disappointment for her.
Former two-time world champion and fellow Aussie Jana Pittman responded to Michelle’s performance with criticism of the extreme amount of pressure that place on her ahead of the Olympics. But others weren’t so supportive.:
“She’s well known for her dance that’s made her a global sensation, but it’s not necessarily for her performance, I think we associate fame with an automatic medal chance, but this poor girl has had the expectation of the nation and the world on her but she’s not quite at that standard yet.’
Jenneke responded to the criticism by saying: ‘I was in form to break it today. I had a really good warm-up session, just didn’t put the race together. People can be very quick to build you up and then cut you down, but they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.”
But her coach Craig Hilliard responded himself by claiming that Jenneke was nowhere near the fitness she should have been pre-Olympics and slammed her ‘off track interests’.
Coach Attack Continues
After Rio and her coach’s comments Jenneke found herself cut from Australia’s National Athlete Support Structure. Hilliard claimed that the system is only for professional athletes that 100% committed to their sport. Which he believes Michelle is not.
There have always been rumors as to whether Michelle has ever undergone plastic surgery! Some fans believe that her breasts have increased in size of the years and have accused her of going under the knife! We find it very hard to believe.
As mentioned many of her fans believe that Michelle has undergone surgery, with photos like this it is no wonder they have been able to construct a conspiracy theory!
Jenneke worked with humour site The Chive to produce a short comic video called Forever Alone. Michelle plays herself in the video and once again she became an overnight Youtube star. The video has already received over 10 million views!
It’s been a rollercoaster of a career for Michelle and she is only 24! She is yet to really live up to the expectations of her country and herself on the track, but off it, she has certainly become a major player.
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