August 25, 2004
Thanks, Rulon
Posted by Gordon Smith

rulon.jpgFor every Svetlana Khorkina, there is a Rulon Gardner. He won bronze today, then proceeded to sit down on the mat and remove his shoes, signifying his retirement from wrestling. This from ESPN:

Tears streamed down his cheeks as he carried the flag around the arena, escorted by the unmistakable cheers of a dozen family members who made the long trip from Afton, Wyo., to Athens to see if he was good for one more gold. He wasn't, but he thought he was good enough -- even if a 4-1 overtime loss to Kazakhstan's Georgi Tsurtsumia earlier meant he couldn't duplicate the gold he won so shockingly in Sydney by beating the greatest wrestler ever, Russian Alexander Karelin, in his sport's upset of the century. "I came back and won a medal. Even though it's bronze, I have no regrets because I gave 100 percent in every match," Gardner said. "I didn't leave anything on the mat."

Rulon Gardner is more familiar to me than most Olympic athletes because he is a Mormon. We are still a small enough group that we rejoice when one of ours succeeds. As far as I can tell from this distance, Rulon Gardner is as genuine as he seems. All that emotion and gratitude is real, and I appreciate him for it.

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