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Olympic gold medalist opens gym in Logan

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LOGAN -- He survived a plane crash into Lake Powell, a motorcycle crash, even 18 hours in the snow where he lost a toe to frostbite.

Now, Olympic gold medalist and wrestler Rulon Gardner may have his toughest challenge yet.

Rulon Gardner's Elite Training Center in Logan had its grand opening a few weeks ago.

It has been in the works for six years, but Gardner says he never gave up hope of seeing his dream of owning a gym come true.

"You get to a certain point where you have a choice," says Gardner. "You either back out or you finish. I've never been a person to back out of almost anything, so I just went in and kept believing."

Now, those who visit his gym might wonder what took him so long.

![](**Who is … Rulon Gardner**
He is best known for winning a gold medal in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, when he defeated previously undefeated Aleksandr Karelin. He also won a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, Greece.
There are the usual treadmills, weight machines and cardio equipment you'd find in almost any other gym. However, go into some of the other rooms, and you'll find a mixed martial arts case, boxing equipment and wrestling mats.

Of course, you'll also find Rulon Gardner himself.

"I'm here every day. This is my baby. This is my dream," says Gardner.

Gardner is the man who captured our emotions during the 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. He won the gold medal against a three-time world champion Russian.

Gardner says he always imagined being the best, and that desire drove him to train harder leading up to the Olympic Games.

Now, after opening his Elite Training Center, he wants to help others to achieve their dreams through hard work.

"Every day we have people come in saying, 'I'm overweight, I have health conditions, I have heart conditions, I have all these different issues, diabetes, what can I do?'" says Gardner. "Now we can start them on a routine towards their goals. The whole family can work at it. Mom can drop their kids off. She goes and works out. The kid can come in here and learn wrestling while dad learns how to box and do mixed martial arts."

That's what brought Logan resident Dan Levanger here. He says he's been to other gyms, but after meeting Gardner and looking around his gym, he decided this is where he could achieve his goals.

**Amazing survival stories** • In February of 2007, he survived a plane crash into Lake Powell. • In 2004 he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident when hit by a car. • In 2002 he was stranded overnight in the Wyoming wilderness while snowmobiling, and lost one of his toes to frostbite.
"I was pretty much sold. Once I looked around, I knew this was the place where I wanted to work out," said Levanger. "Gardner is a great guy, he knows what he's doing and he's a great trainer."

Of course, wrestling is in Gardner's blood. He would also like to make his gym the place where future Olympic wrestlers are made.

"Coming in here teaching the young kids how to wrestle, we want to make wrestling in Utah a point to be reckoned with," said Gardner. "When I did some broadcasting during the Beijing Olympic games in 2008, I saw how good the Russians were. Nobody was competing with them. The only way we can start competing is starting with young kids, making them men quicker, so they can compete with the Russians that much sooner."

Being a business owner in Logan is certainly a long ways from working on his family's farm in Star Valley, Wyoming. However, Gardner says the lessons of hard work there helped make him a gold medalist. He hopes that same work ethic will make him a successful business owner and trainer for future gold medalists.

"If they see that, they say 'Wow, if he can do it, why can't I do it?' And that's the dream we have," says Gardner.

Gardner says he's talked to the National Wrestling Team to try and get them to his gym for some workouts with children.

He even smiled and said now that he has a gym, maybe he'll get back in shape and start wrestling again.



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Alex Cabrero


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