Rulon Gardner speaks about competing on 'Biggest Loser'

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Season 11 of the "Biggest Loser" TV show premieres on NBC next week. This season features three contestants from Utah, including Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner.

Gardner is competing with his friend Justin Pope, who also is from Logan, Utah.

Gardner said the coaches are as tough as they appear on TV.

"I think you actually get a toned-down version when you see them on the show," he said. "In real life, they're even that much more cutthroat. They do play up a little bit for the camera, but ultimately they want you to take some accountability for your weight gain and want you to know this is your chance to live, this is your chance to fight for your life."

He said it's been inspiring to see people willing to do whatever it takes to get their health back.

"It's not just about how old you are; they even give you a date they expect you to die. That's pretty striking when you're only in your 40s and 50s," Gardner said.

His starting weight was 474 pounds, 200 pounds more than when he competed in the Olympics. He said he lost funding for a health club in Logan in 2008. He didn't know if he would recover from that.

"Now the biggest issue in my life is my weight," he said. "They force you to face the facts and the issues that got you to the big weight gain."

He cannot disclose how much weight he's lost, but he said he's noticed a huge change.

The show airs next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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