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Rulon Gardner: Never Give Up, Never Stop Trying

mrca - Rulon Gardner - keynote speaker - announcement - 2023
July 11, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

We are excited to announce the 2023 MRCA Conference & Expo Keynote Speaker, Rulon Gardner!

During the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Rulon Gardner cemented his spot in Olympics history by providing the world with an inspirational and unforgettable story that perfectly captures the spirit of the Games. Pulling off what is now remembered as the "Miracle on the Mat," Gardner did the unimaginable and upset the previous 13-year undefeated and three-time Olympic champion, Alexander Karelin, to capture the Greco-Roman wrestling gold medal. ESPN would later memorialize the match as "one of the greatest upsets not only in wrestling history, but in Olympic history and sports history as well."

After his memorable Olympic moment, Gardner immediately stormed onto the sports culture scene and into the hearts of sports fans throughout the country. He was celebrated in the national spotlight on "Oprah," the "Today Show," and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." He also received the ESPY Award for U.S. Male Olympic Athlete of the Year (2001), the AAU James E. Sullivan Athlete of the Year Award (2000) and the Jesse Owens Award for Sportsmanship (2000).

At the 2023 MRCA Annual Conference, Rulon Gardner will speak on turning negative moments into character building experiences. It was growing up on a dairy farm in Afton, Wyoming, where Gardner became accustomed to defying the odds. When he was just in kindergarten, he was identified by his teachers as a special-needs student -- a characterization that plagued him throughout much of his elementary school years in the form of poor grades and bullying. But with strong family support and the resolve of an Olympic champion, those early struggles would prove to only fuel his motivation to succeed and capture not only a gold medal, but also a Bachelor`s degree from the University of Nebraska.

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