Rulon Gardner, from Olympic miracle to rock bottom, now a film subject

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Rulon Gardner‘s Olympic gold medal was miraculous. What came after was no less extraordinary.

“Rulon Gardner Won’t Die,” which premieres on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app on June 3, chronicles the life of a Wyoming dairy farm boy who recorded the greatest upset in wrestling history at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Plus, the following 20 years, which included:

*In February 2002, driving a snowmobile off a hidden snow shelf into a frozen lake, getting stranded overnight in the wilderness for 17 hours in temperatures that were as low as 25 degrees below zero. The middle toe on his right foot had to be amputated due to frostbite.
*In February 2007, surviving a plane crash into a bay by swimming more than an hour in 44-degree water and spending the night without shelter.
*In 2010, going on “The Biggest Loser” at 474 pounds in a bid to lose more than 200 pounds to make weight for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials at age 40. He reportedly said he got down to 280, missing the Olympic heavyweight limit of 264.5.
*In 2012, filing for bankruptcy and losing his Olympic gold and bronze medals as a result.

Gardner pulled off the “Miracle on the Mat” in Sydney, handing chiseled Russian Aleksandr Karelin his first loss in 13 years. At last check, he was named head wrestling coach at Herriman High School in Utah in 2018.

“Rulon Gardner Won’t Die” is 88 minutes, narrated by Gardner and interviews Karelin, among others.

It’s part of the Olympic Channel’s signature Five Rings Films documentary series. Previous docs featured the 1998 Czech Republic Olympic men’s hockey team and Argentina’s Golden Generation of men’s basketball players.

The film is directed by Adam Irving and produced by Frank Marshall, who serves as executive producer alongside Mike Tollin, whose recent credits include “The Last Dance.”

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Eddy Alvarez, Olympic short track medalist, to play for Miami Marlins

Eddy Alvarez
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Eddy Alvarez realized his MLB dream, six years after earning a Winter Olympic medal, and during a global pandemic that affected his club more than any other U.S. professional sports franchise.

Alvarez, a 2014 U.S. Olympic short track speed skating medalist, is being added to the Miami Marlins roster for Tuesday’s restart of their abbreviated season, president of baseball operations Mike Hill said Monday, according to Marlins beat reporters.

The 30-year-old was among a group added after as many as 18 Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus last week, forcing the club to cancel seven games.

Alvarez is believed to be the first U.S. Winter Olympian to become a Major League Baseball player.

He may be the second Olympic medalist in a sport other than baseball to make it to the majors, joining Jim Thorpe. (Michael Jordan tried to do so with the Chicago White Sox, playing Double-A in 1994, but returned to the Chicago Bulls in 1995.)

Alvarez, a Miami native, played baseball in high school and at Salt Lake Community College before focusing on short track in 2012 for a 2014 Olympic run.

He came back from missing the 2010 Olympic team and surgeries on both knees, reportedly leaving him immobile and bedpan dependent for four to six weeks, to make the Sochi Winter Games. Eddy the Jet earned a silver medal in the 5000m relay.

Then Alvarez returned to baseball after three years away. He signed a minor-league contract with the Chicago White Sox in June 2014. He worked his way through the minors between that franchise and the Marlins system.

Alvarez was a Kannapolis Intimidator, a New Orleans Baby Cake and a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

Now, he’s a big leaguer.

“It definitely was a chance, picking up a kid who hasn’t played in three years who is starting at the age of 24,” Alvarez said in 2014. “It’s not your typical story, but I play like a 17-year-old kid. I’m running around everywhere. I’m diving around everywhere. I’m full of life. I definitely see my progression moving at a rapid pace.”

MORE: What Olympic baseball, softball return looks like in 2021

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Katie Ledecky balances glass of chocolate milk on her head while swimming

Katie Ledecky
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Katie Ledecky will always remember Aug. 3 as the date she won her first Olympic gold medal, at age 15 in 2012.

Now, she can also associate it with the time she created another kind of buzz on social media.

The five-time Olympic champion posted video of her swimming the length of a pool while balancing a glass of chocolate milk on her head. Barely any, if any, milk spilled into the pool.

Ledecky swam as part of a new got milk? ad campaign.

“Hoooowww nervous were you when you did this?!” fellow Olympic champion and training partner Simone Manuel asked Ledecky on Instagram.

“I have never braced my core so hard,” Ledecky wrote. “It’s a great drill!”

“Try doing it breaststroke,” British Olympic 100m breaststroke champion and world-record holder Adam Peaty wrote.

“Is it wrong of me to think this is even more impressive than a few of your WR’s?!!!” wrote 1992 Olympic champion Summer Sanders.

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