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At 474 pounds, Gardner fighting for survival again

By Nancy Armour

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Jan. 7 2011 3:35 p.m. MST

FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2007, file photo, Rulon Gardner holds his gold and his bronze Olympic medals after giving a motivational talk to students and faculty at the Middlesex School in Concord, Mass. Ten years after winning the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, Gardner continued to eat as if he was still training. When his weight ballooned to 474 pounds, Garnder realized he needed to make a change. He's now competing on NBC's "The Biggest Loser."

Michael Dwyer, File, Associated Press

Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner knew he was packing on the pounds, and people would occasionally say something about how big he'd gotten.

But it wasn't until he saw himself on TV and didn't recognize the man he was looking at that Gardner realized how obese he'd become. Now, 10 years after his win at the Sydney Olympics made him a folk hero, the wrestler is focused on becoming "The Biggest Loser."

Gardner tipped the scales at 474 pounds in Tuesday's season premiere of NBC's hit show, 200 pounds more than when he retired after the 2004 Olympics. He lost 32 pounds the first week, and he and teammate Justin Pope won the first challenge.

Gardner says he's determined to lose weight and get healthy so he can live until he's 100 years old.

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