Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Shelley Osterloh reporting It's been four years since Rulon Gardner shocked the world and won gold in Sydney.
Now it's about time to defend that medal. Rulon Gardner wrestles Tuesday.
And when it comes to family support, he's got the whole family here.
Seventeen members of the Gardner clan can fill a dinner table. It's a time to laugh and share memories.
Raised on a Wyoming dairy farm, the kids learned to work hard and rely on each other. Though as adults, they are spread across the country and are diverse in their opinions and politics, they say they come together when it counts.
Marcella Wright/ Rulon's Sister: "Considering there are nine of us, we all get together and fight. But when we need each other we are there."
Reed Gardner/ Rulon's Father "It's been our desire that our family stay close. And this is something that I'm really proud of."
In addition to Mom, Dad, eight brothers and sisters plus spouses, Rulon's new wife is part of the Gardner cheering section.
Lisa Gardner/ Rulon's Wife: "We've been married for four weeks, and we've been apart for over two. So I was really happy today to see him."
Gardner says, after nearly losing his life while stranded on a frozen mountainside, he appreciates family even more.
Rulon Gardner/ Olympic Wrestler: "And to come through all those things, it just put another whole perspective on life for me. This is pretty inspirational."
The Gardners say they believe Rulon is capable of winning gold again, but even if he doesn't he is still a winner in their eyes.
Diane Gardner/ Rulon's Sister: "He never gives up. He has that determination, he has that desire and he has the will to be successful."
Most of his family arrived in Athens the night before that dinner, and when they got here at 3:30 in the morning the hotel refused to let them check in because, like many families, they were going to put more people in each room.
So half of them spend the night out on the street and watched the sunrise from the Acropolis.
Rulon competes Tuesday in the preliminary rounds.