Rulon Gardner places sixth in Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year voting

By Gary Abbott | Dec. 27, 2000, 12 a.m. (ET)
Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling champion Rulon Gardner (Afton,Wyo./Sunkist Kids) placed sixth in the voting for the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. Professional golfer Tiger Woods was selected as the winner of the award. The only athletes who placed ahead of Gardner in the voting were Woods, cyclist Lance Armstrong, football player Kurt Warner, baseball player Pedro Martinez and basketball player Shaquille O'Neil. Gardner received three first place votes, the same number as Warner and Martinez. Only Woods and Armstrong had more first place votes. A total of 30 athletes, including both professional and amateur athletes, received votes in the balloting, which featured editors and broadcasters from 20 countries. The Associated Press has presented this award since 1931, and no wrestler has ever won. It was the second straight year that Woods received the award, the sixth athlete to win it in consecutive years. Gardner defeated Alexandre Kareline, a three-time Olympic champion and nine-time World champion, in the gold-medal finals at 286 pounds in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Sydney Olympic Games. Kareline had never lost a match on the international level until Gardner's outstanding achievement. Gardner was selected by his peers to carry the U.S. flag in the Closing Ceremonies at the Olympic Games. Since the Games have ended, Gardner has been a popular public figure, appearing on numerous national television shows and other public appearances. He was elected as the USOC SportsMan of the Year, only the second wrestler ever so honored. He also was named to The Sporting News' 100 Most Powerful list in sports, with a No. 80 ranking, one of only five athletes on the list. 2000 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year (based on a 3-2-1 point system with first place votes in parentheses): 1. Tiger Woods (47), 160 pts. 2. Lance Armstrong (8), 72 pts. 3. Kurt Warner (3), 34 pts. 4. Pedro Martinez (3), 31 pts. 5. Shaquille O'Neal (1), 22 pts. 6. Rulon Gardner (3), 18 pts. 7. Jason Giambi (2), 13 pts. 8. Derek Jeter, 8 pts. 9. (tie) Marshall Faulk, 7 pts. 9. (tie) Josh Heupel (2), 7 pts. 11. Michael Johnson, 6 pts. 12. (tie) Lenny Krayzelburg (1), 5 pts. 12. (tie) Pete Sampras, 5 pts. 14. (tie) Felix Trinidad, 4 pts. 14. (tie) Michael Vick ,4 pts. 14. (tie) Chris Weinke, 4 pts. 17. (tie) Koby Bryant, 3 pts. 17. (tie) Randy Johnson (1), 3 pts. 17. (tie) Jeff Kent, 3 pts. 17. (tie) Bobby Labonte, 3 pts. 17. (tie) Karl Malone (1), 3 pts. 17. (tie) Ian Thorpe, 3 pts. 23. (tie) Rich Gannon, 2 pts. 23. (tie) Haile Gebrselassie, 2 pts. 23. (tie) Jaromir Jagr, 2 pts. 23. (tie) Lennox Lewis, 2 pts. 23. (tie) Randy Moss, 2 pts. 23. (tie) Pieter van den Hoogenband, 2 pts. 29. (tie) Maurice Greene, 1 pt. 29. (tie) Patrick Roy, 1 pt.