To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


 By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee
Kyodo World Services, senior sports

Olympic wrestling champion leaves hospital

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Rulon Gardner left the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in a wheelchair, nearly two weeks after spending a freezing night alone in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

    Gardner, the heavyweight gold medal winner in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, sustained severe frostbite but did not have any of his toes amputated, his father, Reed Gardner, told the Post Register of Idaho Falls after his son was released Thursday. "He has ambitions of trying to get back to life again," Reed Gardner told the paper. "They have been very nice, but he felt it was time to get out of there."

    Rulon Gardner, who flew to Washington, D.C., on Friday for a speaking engagement, is scheduled to return to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center on Monday, Reed Gardner said. "We knew this was a long, drawn-out procedure," Reed Gardner said. "Doctors told us it would be three weeks before they had a really good idea of what would happen."

    Gardner spent 17 hours in 25-degree below zero (-32 C) temperatures in Wyoming after his snowmobile bogged down. When he was rescued on February 15, his body temperature hovered around 88 degrees (31 C). His boots were sawed off at the hospital and his toes were frozen solid.

    At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Gardner upset Russia's Alexander Karelin to win the gold medal. Karelin had not lost an international match in 13 years.