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Rulon Gardner receives the Jesse Owens Award for Sportsmanship

By Marlene O. | May 16, 2001, 12 a.m. (ET)

Rulon Gardner and Marion Jones, Gold Medalists in Sydney last summer, accepted the Inaugural Jesse Owens Awards for Sportsmanship on May 5 during a black tie gala at the Party Barn on the Wexler Farm in New Albany, Ohio. Jeremy Schaap, ESPN Sports Classic, served as Master of Ceremonies. Andy Geiger, Athletic Director, The Ohio State University, commented that the awards will annually recognize those individuals who excel in sports, honor their commitment to family, invest in their community and through their celebrity, lead by their positive example. Rulon Gardner, the mild-mannered heavyweight who grew up on a dairy farm in Wyoming, captured the hearts of people across America and around the world with his Greco-Roman wrestling victory in Sydney. Rulon's immediate reaction was an attempt to console his opponent who had not been defeated in thirteen years. Marion Jones, who won five Olympic medals in Sydney, is the first woman in history to achieve this feat. Now just 25, she has already begun to groom the next generation of American athletes as a youth basketball coach. The event benefited the youth development programs of The Jesse Owens Foundation, founded in 1980 to assist young people to develop their talents, broaden their horizons and become better citizens.