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Rulon Gardner named 2000 USA Wrestling Man of the Year



Rulon Gardner of Afton, Wyo., has been named the 2000 Man of the Year by USA Wrestling, the national governing body for amateur wrestling. This award recognizes an outstanding man for his contributions to the sport of wrestling. Many believe that Gardner provided the most memorable moment from the entire Sydney Olympic Games, when he defeated three-time Olympic champion and previously unbeaten Alexandre Kareline of Russia in the gold-medal finals at 286 pounds in Greco-Roman. Gardner's amazing athletic achievements make him worthy of recognition. However, it was the attention that Gardner and his victory in Sydney has brought to wrestling from the general public that has also been truly amazing. He was selected by his peers to carry the U.S. flag in the Closing Ceremonies at the Olympic Games in Sydney. Gardner has received most of the major awards in the sport of wrestling, and in the Olympic movement, since his dramatic victory. He was named the 2000 USOC SportsMan of the Year, only the second wrestler so honored. He became the first wrestler to win an ESPY award, when he claimed the honor as the Male U.S. Olympic Athlete of the Year. He was a nominee for three ESPY awards. He has also been named as a Top-Five finalist for the James E. Sullivan Award, presented annually to the top amateur athlete in the United States. Gardner was named to The Sporting News' 100 Most Powerful list in sports. He was ranked No. 80 in the annual selection of sports industry leaders. He was one of only five athletes on the list, and was the only amateur athlete, as the other four athletes are professional sports superstars. Gardner was among the star athletes selected for one of USA Today's 2000 Sports Awards. A total of 28 awards were presented, with each award having an acting theme. USA Today's award was: "Best Original Score: Rulon Gardner winning wrestling gold medal 1-0." He also placed sixth in the voting for the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. Professional golfer Tiger Woods was selected as the winner of the award. Gardner received three first place votes, the same number as football star Kurt Warner and baseball star Pedro Martinez. Only golfer Tiger Woods and cyclist Lance Armstrong had more first place votes. His wrestling honors have included the 2000 Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year award and the 2000 USOC Male Wrestler of the Year award. Earlier this week, Gardner was named USA Wrestling Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year. Gardner has received many major media interviews since the Games, including appearances with Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Rosie O'Donnell as well as the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" show. He threw out the opening pitch at a number of major league baseball games, including a New York Yankees playoff game and the opening day game for the Colorado Rockies. He has received numerous commercial opportunities, including a "Got Milk" ad which was published in major magazines across the nation. USA Wrestling will be announcing major award winners each day this week on TheMat.com, the official web page of the Amateur Wrestling Alliance.
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