One of the primary summer chores for all of the Gardner children was to "turn the bales." A favorite pastime to avoid work was to swim in the "watering trough". Mind you this was not a lake, this was a small tank used to store mossy water for the cattle to drink, and not the cleanest sight on the farm. Rulon has great memories of getting wet, but it was not fun when dad had to stop his work to track down his helpers!
Wintertime also involved many chores. Once Rulon and his brother Reynold were in high school, they shared the responsibility of milking cows, feeding cows and calves, chopping grain, scrapping the yard, and other chores. More than once Reynold and Rulon would decide it was a good idea to wrestle to see who had to do the most chores
At the end of each summer, after fair, when the crops were in, the Gardners would take a family trip to Salt Lake City. When Rulon was six years old, he had been taken to Lagoon (an amusement park) with his four older brothers and was instructed to stay with his brothers; mom would be back before dark. When it started to get late, Rulon decided he was tired and wanted to go back to the motel. At this point Rulon began a 25-mile hike, along the interstate, to the motel. His mom contacted the police who found Rulon walking along the median, headed to "my motel in Salt Lake." Rulon had no fear, he just wanted to get back to the motel to take a nap.
While in 3rd grade Rulon was proud to show his class a couple of new arrows the neighbor had given him. After showing the class, Rulon was putting the arrows away, and he dropped one. While picking it up, Rulon punctured his abdomen with one of the other arrows. Mom and dad were out of town, so Marcella (in 6th grade) took Rulon across the fence to the emergency room. Dr. Perkes commented that Rulon had just missed puncturing something vital; Rulon was stitched up and returned to school.
School did not come easy for Rulon. Rulon struggled with reading speed and comprehension. With the help and support of his family, Rulon was able to complete his schoolwork. Most school nights found Rulon after 10 p.m. lying on mom's bed while mom read his books to him, and then assisted him with his assignments. With a great deal of frustration, Rulon successfully completed high school, and gained a wrestling scholarship to attend Ricks College. From Ricks College, Rulon received a Division 1 scholarship to wrestle for the University of Nebraska.
Rulon's wrestling career began when he was six years old. For one week every year, Star Valley would have a wrestling camp, which always concluded with a tournament on the weekend. Rulon participated in this from six years old until he started junior high school at 12 years old. Rulon began a regular wrestling season while in junior high and continued with the wrestling seasons until he graduated from the University of Nebraska.
Rulon is very proud of graduating from the University of Nebraska with a degree in physical education. After graduating from the University of Nebraska, Rulon continued his Olympic wrestling pursuit with full-time dedication. Winning the Gold in Sydney did not come without dedication and sacrifice. Rulon has sacrificed much in order to reach his Olympic aspirations.
Rulon has experienced wins as well as losses in his life. Rulon has never dwelled on the negatives in his life; instead he takes each challenge and uses it as a means to improve his life.
Born August 16, 1971 in Afton, Wyoming, Rulon Gardner is the youngest of nine children born to Reed and Virginia Gardner. Raised on a dairy farm, where they grew crops and milked cows twice a day, there was never a shortage of work to be done, and Rulon was taught to work hard at a young age. When he was big enough to see over the tall barley, Rulon was taken, along with his siblings, to the field to help move the sprinkler pipe, or as his dad always said "it is time to move the water." On many occasions, Rulon and his siblings were lost in the grain, but only for short periods of time before dad found them.