“Rulon,” a two-hour documentary film on Rulon Gardner‘s stunning 2000 Olympic wrestling gold medal and adversity-filled two decades since, makes its television premiere on NBCSN on Friday at 11 p.m. ET.
The film immediately follows broadcast coverage of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials (full TV/stream schedule here).
Gardner, who grew up on a Wyoming dairy farm, recorded the greatest upset in wrestling history at the 2000 Sydney Games. It was dubbed “Miracle on the Mat.” Gardner handed chiseled Russian Aleksandr Karelin his first loss in 13 years.
After that victory came fame and endorsements. Then struggles.
*In February 2002, Gardner drove 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, he survived a plane crash into a bay by swimming more than an hour in 44-degree water and spending the night without shelter.
*In 2010, he went 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, Gardner filed for bankruptcy, losing his Olympic gold and bronze medals as a result.
In 2018, Gardner became head wrestling coach at Herriman High School in Utah.
“Rulon” is part of the Olympic Channel’s Five Rings Films. Previous docs featured the 1998 Czech Republic Olympic men’s ice hockey team and Argentina’s Golden Generation of men’s basketball players.
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