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Rulon's Excellent Big Adventure 1



SYDNEY---It's just after Closing Ceremonies of the the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Do you know where your Super Heavyweight Greco Roman wrestler is? Apparently everywhere. Rulon Gardner's excellent big adventure has started and the train isn't going to return to the station that launched his humble beginnings in the star valley farm country of southwest Wyoming until a hero parade, October 12, in his hometown of Afton. Since his XXXL win over The Experiment, Alexander Karelin, Wednesday, Sept. 27, the 29-year-old has been barraged with more than 300 media interviews, been on The Today Show, and is ready to enter into the Twilight Zone of syndicated and network talk shows beginning with the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, October 4. A Tsunami is building its way across the Big Pond after being started Down Under. It will crest this next week on the shores of Southern California and Big Rulon will be riding in the pipeline. Land Ho! Big Rulon will arrive at Los Angeles International at 9:40 a.m. from Sydney via United Airlines, October 4. "The Miracle on The Mat" has him in the likes of People Weekly and Sports Illustrated with major features and pictorals this coming week. So much that NBC is making him one of the designated heroes of the Games on its closing night coverage, October 1. So much that even Rosie O'Donnell will be welcoming a 290-pound Greco Roman wrestler to her set, October 9, while Conan O'Brien (who by the way was on the set with Gardner on The Today Show from Olympic Park in Sydney this past week) will be exchanging laughs, October 6. Gardner was not shy of walking up to O'Brien in the NBC compound and introducing himself despite being on the air live with a radio station in Phoenix. And, through it all, The Big Hoss has fared beyond well. "Best story of the Games". "Best interview" many media have said after leaving the presence of the large gravitational pull from Planet Gardner. Gardner's stamina for interviews far outmatches his stellar aerobic capacity shown in wearing down Alexander The Great. It was no big surprise then that the free allocated minutes Gardner was provided from the USOC's team-issued cell phone burned out well before Sunday's close. "Where do these people find my number," he said. "I hang up from one call and 15 minutes later, I have six more." (Gardner now knows how Garth Brooks feels.) "He's adjusting," said his wife Stacey. By being voted to carry the American flag into the stadium for the Closing Ceremony, Gardner will leave an indeliable mark on the 2000 Games. With his stunning win, he has left the presence of mere gold medal winners and is beginning to transcend into the average household. All this from a Greco-Roman wrestler who grew up on a diary farm in one of the most rural parts of the country. You would have to see him on the streets of Sydney to fully appreciate the waves he has created during this 27th Olympiad. When you end a 13-year winning streak at the hands of a big, bad Russian, American media members take notice, even though the Cold War thawed more than a decade ago. When "Big Roo", as his family endearingly call him, steps on to the streets of Sydney, old and young take notice. Wrestling fans can take credence in the fact that a Real Wrestler has become a Real Hero when two young kids where overheard walking toward the set of the Today Show and one said: "Hey, let's go see this, I think that big Rulon guy is on." Fact was, he actually made his appearance the night before. America's new hero was found somewhere the vacinity where Big Roo landed while doing a cart wheel immediately following his win over Karelin. There is talk he will appear on a celebrity version on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" to be aired in mid October. USA Today has done major features on the farm kid who "pushed around a few cows" and says Karelin is a lot like trying to lift a horse. Of course, Karelin doesn't have hoofs but still has his patented reverse body lift. Gardner has remained humble through his 15-minutes of fame, which, undoubtedly will be not only stretched out through 2001 but live in infamy for providing the world with an Olympic Moment. His adventure is just starting, though his first steps are just reaching full stride.
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