Gardner named TheMat com Wrestler of the Week

By John Fuller | Sept. 16, 2004, 12 a.m. (ET)
Rulon Gardner (Wellsville, Utah/Sunkist Kids) has been named Wrestler of the Week for the week of September 7-13. Each week, will select an Athlete of the Week, based upon performance within wrestling for that week. The selection committee will consider any level of wrestling, from youth programs through the Senior level. The announcement will be made each week on Wednesday. Gardner was honored with a parade and the naming of "Rulon Gardner Day" in his hometown of Afton, Wyo. on Thursday, Sept. 9. This came after he captured the only medal for any U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, winning a bronze. The ceremony proclaimed Sept. 9 as "Rulon Gardner Day." "The first thing I want to do is thank my mom," Gardner said after apologizing in case he began to cry. After hugging his mom, Virginia, Gardner returned to the microphone. "Secondly, I'm just a person that will someday call Afton home again," he said. "For me it all started here in Afton." Gardner is the second U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler to win two Olympic medals after he captured a bronze at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece on August 25. In 2000, Gardner shocked the world by defeating Alexander Kareline of Russia, previously unbeaten in 14 years of competition, to become only the third American Greco-Roman wrestler to win an Olympic gold. In 2002, Gardner was stranded overnight in freezing temperatures in the Wyoming wilderness. He suffered severe frostbite, and as a result, lost one toe. Against the odds, Gardner returned to the mat in October, 2002. He placed 10th at the 2003 World Championships and earned a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team by defeating 2002 World champion Dremiel Byers at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Click here to view previous Athletes of the Week