Olympian Rulon Gardner to appear at Hoquiam Invitational

Former Olympic wrestling gold medalist Rulon Gardner will appear in Hoquiam this weekend.

Gardner will greet wrestlers and hand out awards at the Grizzly Alumni Association Invitational on Saturday and is scheduled to speak at a Hoquiam High School assembly Monday morning. He has known HHS Assistant Principal Scott Hyder since 2004.

The 41-year-old Gardner made headlines at the 2000 Olympic Games, where he won the heavyweight gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling. He defeated Russian Aleksandr Kaelin, who had been unbeaten in 13 years of international competition — a feat that earned him ESPN’s ESPY Award for the U.S. Male Olympic Athlete of the Year.

Gardner was also a bronze medalist in the 2004 Olympics.

The native of Wyoming has been subjected to some trying experiences, surviving both a near-fatal snowmobile accident and a plane crash during the past 11 years.

Weighing as much as 474 pounds, he also appeared on television’s “Biggest Loser,” losing some 173 pounds before leaving the show for personal reasons prior to the final weigh-in.

Gardner currently makes his living as a motivational speaker.