Wyoming’s Rulon Gardner Eyeing An Olympic Comeback At 51
Written by Chance Bond on February 3, 2023
One of the most iconic athletes in Wyoming sports history is ready for another run at the 2024 Olympics in Paris France. It’s been 23 years since Afton, Wyoming, and 1989 Star Valley Graduate, Rulon Gardner defeated Aleksandr Karelin . Karelin, nicknamed the Russian Bear, was a 3 time Gold Medalist in the Olympics and was considered at the time the greatest Greco-Roman Wrestler in the World. Gardner’s defeat of Karelin is still considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Gardner would win the Gold Medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney Australia.
Gardner was a three-sport athlete as a Star Valley Brave. He was an All-State Football player and Wrestler. He won the 1989 State heavyweight State championship in wrestling and took 2nd in the shot put at the 1989 State track and field finals.
Along with the 2000 Gold Medal Rulon would compete in the 2004 Olympics in Athens Greece and would win the Bronze Medal for the US Olympic team. Other achievements for Gardner include being US Champion in 1995, 1997, and 2001. James E. Sullivan Award for amateur athlete of the year, 2001. United States Olympic Committee Sportsman of the Year, 2001. ESPY Award for US Male Olympic athlete of the year, 2001. Gardner was Inducted as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, in 2010.
The tragic events in Rulon’s life add to the tale of the life of the Superstar. From a show-and-tell accident in elementary school where an arrow punctured his abdomen. The loss of his daughter, Stacey, in a 1990 car accident. A 2002 snowmobile accident resulted in the amputation of the middle toe on his right foot. In 2007 Gardner, along with two other men, survived a light aircraft plane crash on Lake Powell in Utah.
Rulon was a contestant on Season 11 of the Biggest Loser leaving the show before the finale sighting “I had to do what is best for me and my family.” The experience saw Gardner drop from 474 pounds. During the 16 weeks on the show, Gardner lost 173 pounds.
The Star Valley native also has written a book. Never Stop Pushing: My Life From A Wyoming Farm To The Olympics Medal Stand published in 2005.
Rulon Gardner did an interview with TMZ Sports discussing the why’s of his desire to return to the mat at 51 years old, TMZ Sports Interview
Gardner is scheduled to be on Mac In The Morning next week on KODI Radio. Mybighornbasin.com