Rulon Gardner walks away from 'Biggest Loser' citing personal reasons, eyes return to competitive wrestling

Published: Wednesday, April 27 2011 12:59 p.m. MDT

Rulon Gardner has left the ranch and is considering a return to competitive wrestling.

In a move that has many scratching their heads, the Olympic gold medalist decided to leave NBC’s “The Biggest Loser: Couples” for personal reasons at the end of Tuesday’s episode. Many thought he had a good chance to win the competition.

“This is my last time on the scales,” Gardner said to his competitors. “At this time, I’m asking to leave ‘The Biggest Loser’ for personal reasons. That’s it.”

And with that, Gardner, who has lost 188 pounds (an average of 15 pounds per week during the contest), hugged the trainers, waved farewell to the other contestants and walked away. Although he stood on the scale, his weight was not recorded. The show also failed to provide an update of his current weight today.

“Tonight it became clear I needed to go home for personal reasons,” Gardner said. “There are things that need to be addressed in my life back home. I feel my personal goals have been met here on ‘Biggest Loser.’ It’s my time to go home. I got my health back, I got my fitness and I got my life back, and that was the real reason I was coming to 'The Biggest Loser.' I am happy.”

Gardner continued: “I am going to go home and see my wife, and be the husband she deserves, and be a person who is accountable for my actions and truly try to inspire people to change their lives like I had my life changed.”

NBC officials said Wednesday that Gardner would not take part in its weekly media conference call, where departing players take questions from the media.

“That is so strange,” was all trainer Jillian Michaels could say following Gardner’s shocking announcement. Fellow trainer Bob Harper said the move was unprecedented.

“Never before in ‘Biggest Loser’ history have I seen this,” Harper said. “I was so taken aback because Rulon was set up to win this show. This guy was on a roll. Now it’s anybody’s game.”

When Gardner started the show, he tipped the scales at 474 pounds. As of the April 19 episode in New Zealand, he weighed 301.

Fresh off the departure from the show Gardner released a statement Wednesday through his marketing firm shedding light on his future plans.

"Participating on 'The Biggest Loser' was a fantastic experience. I went on the show to get my life and my health back and I have accomplished that goal," the 39-year-old said in his statement.

"Once I reached my goal and started feeling like my old self, I felt compelled to return home and support my wife, Kamie, in the ongoing management of our personal and professional affairs. ... Another exciting outcome is that I am strongly considering a return to competitive wrestling."

Gardner added fuel to a wrestling comeback by consenting to an interview with USA Wrestling's Gary Abbott, who wrote a Wednesday piece for themat.com.

Gardner said he is focused on maintaining his health, his marriage, his business and wrestling. The article also states this past weekend Gardner returned to the wrestling room at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., for some Greco-Roman wrestling workouts. There he trained with national Greco-Roman coach Steve Fraser and other athletes. "He is seriously considering lacing back on the shoes again as an athlete," Abbott wrote.

"My competitive fire is back. There are different directions I would like to go with it. I am contemplating competing again. I'm back training," Gardner told Abbott. "I know it is a multi-month project. But my body is in the process of coming back. I have personal goals I have set for myself for the next couple of years."

Gardner is a 39-year-old gym owner in Logan.

Kaylee Kinikini, a Mormon from Shelley, Idaho, was voted out of the game after gaining two pounds in Tuesday’s episode. During her time on the show, Kinikini lost 68 pounds.

Email: ttoone@desnews.com. Twitter: tbtoone

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