Who is Michelle Jenneke?
You’ve probably heard this question before. Maybe you’ve asked it. Or maybe you’re sitting here right now, reading this article, wonder the same exact thing. Well, you’re going to want to figure out who she is fast, because she’s on track to become a household name, and soon.
Michelle “Shelly” Jenneke is a 24-year-old Australian hurdler who first started garnering attention after she won the silver medal for the 100m hurdles at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore and a few years later when she qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Unfortunately, Jenneke’s Olympic performance wasn’t particularly memorable — her coach said that she arrived out of shape and she alluded that athletics weren’t her main priority — but she did manage to make headlines in 2012 for something else entirely.
Jenneke’s pre-race dance, which she performed at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona, captivated the world and became an instant Internet sensation, earning her the nickname “Jiggling Jenneke.” According to Sports Illustrated, the dance “looked even hotter in slow-motion.” The first video of the dance on Youtube garnered 19 million views in a week and was featured on late night shows like The Tonight Show. Jenneke’s name was now recognizable to the public, but not in the way she’d expected.
But Jenneke is determined to be more than just an Internet star. After facing backlash from the dance worldwide, she told The Daily Mail, “People think that by doing my dance I’m trying to draw attention to myself. I’m not. It’s just what I do when I’m on the start line. I’m not going to change who I am or what I’m doing because people view it one way or another.”
Where is she now?
Jenneke continues to compete for her country at various competitions worldwide. On March 5, she advanced to the semi-finals of the 60mm hurdles at the indoor athletics championships in Birmingham. She is currently one of Australia’s top hurdlers (though her main rival, Sally Pearson, is one of the fastest 100m hurdlers in history) and is looking to nab a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Still, to many, she’s Jiggling Jenneke, the Internet sensation. As far as things go, though, Jenneke doesn’t think that’s so bad.
“I’ve been fortunate,” she told the Herald Sun in a recent interview. “When the video first came out, I was still a junior athlete so it makes sense that no one really knew about my athletic achievements. As the years have gone on, I’ve made more international teams and run a bit faster so I feel there’s more people who do recognize my athletic achievements as well.”