Rulon Gardner, U.S. gold and bronze medal Greco-Roman wrestler and NBC Television Analyst, is proud to let you to see him sweat. That sweat is what took him to the winner's podium during the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens games. And, that sweat may bring him back to the mat at the 2016 Rio Games. When asked about competing in the 2016 games, Rulon said "the world hasn't seen the last of me. I have lots of fight left. The 2000 games were part of the journey. 2016 will be the crowning of my dreams."
I had the opportunity to interview Rulon in his role as Wisk Deep Clean's first Sweat Ambassador. Wisk Deep Clean is a heavy duty laundry detergent that fights not only "ring around the collar" buy heavy body soil and odors as well. During his recent training sessions, Rulon sent his workout clothes to Wisk scientists for a two week period. The scientists extracted the body oils and soil into a jar that Rulon calls his "jar of courage". Fortunately, he didn't share a sample!
Laundry of a Champion
At more than 300 pounds, Rulon loses six to ten pounds of sweat during each workout and throughout his lifetime he has produced loads and loads of laundry. Rulon grew up with eight brothers and sisters on a Wyoming dairy farm where hard work produces plenty of sweat and odors all their own. When his mother entered nursing school while Rulon was in middle school; his sisters taught him to do his own laundry. This served him well during high school and college at the University of Nebraska. While wrestling teams have managers that take care of wrestling gear, Rulon's work ethic had him training year round, several times each day.
To combat the bacteria (ringworm, staph, athlete's foot) that can thrive on damp, sweaty garments, Rulon had to do laundry every couple of days. Two bouts with staph infection taught him the importance of strict hygiene and sanitation practices on and off the mat. Deep cleaning and disinfecting laundry is a must when problems are identified.
During his Team USA experiences in Sydney and Athens competitions, uniform, training and everyday laundry was handled by the U.S. Delegation. The procedures for laundry are given to every athlete with turn-in and pick-up times scheduled twice daily. One of his proudest moments was being able to wear the USA warm-up on behalf of every kid on every wrestling team in America.
Gardner's victory in 2000 over the undefeated three-time gold medalist and nine-time World Champion, Alexander Karelin of Russia, is known around the world as "The Miracle on the Mat." And his career and contribution to health and sport are continuing. Earlier this year, Gardner, age 40, attempted a comeback to compete for the U.S. in London this summer. Although he missed making the U.S. squad, he continued to help his fellow teammates prepare for London by training with them in Colorado Springs throughout the spring and summer. He made not have made Team USA but he made it to London commentating on the wrestling matches as an NBC Sports Analyst.
Message of a Champion
In addition to his training to compete at a world-class level and acting as Wisk Deep Clean's first Sweat Ambassador, Gardner is also a motivational speaker. With a lifetime of hard work and overcoming adversity and injuries, he has a message to share with kids and adults. His vision in the pursuit of excellence is based on a philosophy of hard work and the ability to dream big. It is a philosophy built on respect for others, internal strength and character. He gives much of the credit to his family and the teachers and coaches that encouraged him through the years. One of the aspects of wrestling that appeals to him is that it comes down to one man's strength and courage to win. There is no one else to rely upon except yourself. Rulon feels that it is everyone's responsibility "to make the next generation better than yours".
That is the message of a winner.