|It's 2:00 a.m. in Sydney, and Rulon Gardner is the king of the world|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
It's 2:00 a.m. in Sydney, and Rulon won the gold about six hours ago.
Since then, it has been a dizzying time, riding the hot story of the entire Games. I hope TheMat.com readers forgive us for getting the details out a little slow. We've been busy bringing the Rulon story to the world.
After Rulon won, he did the NBC interview, then went to get his medal. After the moving awards ceremony, he was brought back into the local organizing committee's protocol system. He was the first athlete to emerge for a press conference, where he share his joy with about 100 journalists on hand. They broke up the press conference to bring in other athletes, so he moved the interviews into the corridor for quite a long time.
Rulon had to get through drug testing and had some difficulty finishing that off. He was a bit dehydrated after pulling off the biggest upset in Olympic history.
The USOC sent a van, and we loaded Rulon and his family, plus some USA Wrestling people in. We had an additional press conference set for the Main Press Center for all the press unable to attend the action, or without the proper credential access.
We made an unscheduled stop at the USA Wrestling party, to celebrate the Greco-Roman team effort. Obviously, Rulon was the hit of the show. I hope those who were there forgive us for hustling Rulon away, as we were running late for our media appointment. It would have been fun to stay a lot longer, but Rulon's instant fame was also important in the promotion wrestling (and specifically Greco-Roman) to the world while he was the hottest story on the planet.
At the Main Press Center, Rulon was a major hit with all the press who came, and his wife and parents were interviewed like stars. Everyone was impressed by Rulon and his personality, and they enjoyed meeting his family. Rulon made a lot of friends for wrestling during these series of interviews.
Rulon and family went off to attend the Michael Johnson birthday party at Planet Hollywood as special guests, but I stayed back to file for TheMat.com. I finally got to finish my story, clean up and post my quotes, and send a number of scans for the web page. If it is not all posted yet, it soon will be. Enjoy, because this may be the greatest moment in American wrestling history.
Expect to see alot more of Rulon in the next few days. The media is already calling it "The Miracle on the Mat," and many are comparing his achievement with the legendary 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey triumph. A star is born, and the sport of wrestling will be the better for it for a long time.
The bad news for me is I have to go back to work in just a few short hours. The good news is that freestyle is getting started and I can't wait to see our performance.
Real Wrestling. Real Heroes. It's not just an empty slogan. It all came true tonight.