IOWA CITY — Rulon Gardner will not compete this weekend in the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials.
Gardner, 40, had considerable weight to drop in the past couple of weeks in order to compete at 264.5 pounds. But he didn’t even participate in the weigh-in here Friday afternoon.
In a statement, Gardner said: “I’m disappointed I didn’t make the weigh-in. I worked hard. I was within five pounds. I’m glad I did this and have my health back.”
The former Nebraska All-American won the gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in 2000 and claimed the bronze in 2004.
His weight, however, shot up after that. He weighed as much as 474 pounds before participating in the television weight-loss show, “The Biggest Loser,” about 18 months ago. He lost about 200 pounds but left the show before it ended — and was open in his contempt for it. He claimed that producers didn’t want him to win it.
He returned home to Logan, Utah, where he has a fitness center, with renewed interest in qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London.
He said last year he had something to prove again because his appearance on the television show had embarrassed him. But his ability to make weight always was a question, not to mention his ability to compete at 40.
The question of his ability to compete was answered Friday.
Rich Bender, USA Wrestling executive director, praised Gardner for attempting a comeback. “We applaud him for his gallant effort and for his commitment to living a healthier lifestyle,” Bender said. “The fact that he has become involved in our Greco-Roman program again has strengthened our national effort.
“He is a great champion and will continue to be an asset for USA Wrestling and Team USA through the Olympic Games and beyond.”