Rulon Gardner files for bankruptcy

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There were days when Greco-Roman wrestling champ Rulon Gardner seemed like a modern day superhero; or at least something akin to Bruce Willis’ character from ‘Unbreakable.’

His feat of famously beating Aleksandr Karelin – a Russian who hadn’t lost in 13 years or given up a point in six years – to win gold in Sydney seems downright small when you consider that he survived a snowmobile accident and a night stranded in the wilderness, a terrible motorcycle accident, and even a plane crash that caused him and his friends to swim to safety and bear a night wet and without shelter in the Utah cold.

But for all his struggles against wrestlers, weight, and the wilderness, the famed Gardner has been unable to capitalize on his publicity. Gardner filed for bankruptcy last month after somehow piling up nearly $3 million in debt on a household income of only $37,932, according to the Associated Press.

“I got taken advantage of, and now I’ve got to pay the price,” Gardner said. “I’m trying to make it right.”

Gardner has made some poor business decisions, but says he’s the victim of investment fraud. He’ll offer his story in a deposition scheduled for Oct. 10. Then in November he’ll auction off his most valuable belongings, including a Porsche, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, some knives, watches, autographs and memorabilia.

We can’t imagine these items will chase any more than face value, though. His appearances on NBC’s ‘The Biggest Loser’ and his nearly successful attempt at a comeback at the 2012 Olympic Trials seem like his way of trying to recapture success by using his one proven talent, wrestling, which has of course declined since his first retirement in 2004.

Unfortunately for Gardner, he’s no longer a superhero. We’ve seen him break, and for as much pride as his victory and subsequent cartwheel brought Americans in 2000, the novelty of his celebrity wore off a long time ago. At least we’ll always have Sydney.

Syria-born Olympian takes advocacy role at U.N. refugee agency

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency has chosen as a goodwill ambassador a Syrian teenage girl who helped save a boat carrying fellow refugees and later became an Olympic swimmer.

Yusra Mardini was appointed as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on Thursday, joining other notables like actress Cate Blanchett and author Khaled Hosseini in the unpaid advocacy role.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Mardini “represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than 10 million young refugees around the globe.”

Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped overboard and swam for hours alongside their overloaded boat to reach Greece from Turkey in 2015.

She swam on the first Refugee Olympic team in Rio last year and has discussed refugees’ challenges with leaders like Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.

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Rafael Nadal recreates famous 1992 Olympic cauldron lighting

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Rafael Nadal, owner of two Olympic gold medals, recently parroted arguably the most famous moment in Spanish Olympic history.

Nadal and Marc Lopez, the 2016 Olympic doubles champions, took up bows and arrows and joined archer Antonio Rebollo on Monday at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Stadium. It brought back memories of Rebollo’s unforgettable cauldron lighting from the only Olympics held in Spain.

Nadal is in Barcelona for an ATP Tour event as he prepares to vie for a 10th French Open title next month.

Rebollo, now 61 years old, was one of 200 hundred archers considered to light the cauldron in 1992. He learned that he was chosen for the role over four other finalists two hours ahead of time, according to an NBC Olympics profile in 1996.

The cauldron would be 195 feet away. Fearing Rebollo would miss the target, organizers instructed him to fire his arrow beyond the stadium walls. As the arrow soared, a technician lit the natural gas flame with a remote control.

The illusion worked. The true story wasn’t revealed for another 20 years.

“There were no fears,” Rebollo, a Barcelona native who contracted polio at age 8, told NBC two decades ago. “I was practically a robot. I focused on my positioning and reaching the target. That was all. … My feelings were taken from the people who described to me how they saw it. What they felt, their emotions, their cries. This is what made me realize what the moment actually meant.”

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