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Wrestling at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games:

Men's Super-Heavyweight, Greco-Roman

Wrestling at the 2000 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games


Host City: Sydney, Australia
Venue(s): Sydney Exhibition Centre, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sydney, New South Wales
Date Started: September 25, 2000
Date Finished: September 27, 2000
Format: Round-robin pools, winner of each pool advanced to single-elimination tournament.

Gold: USA Rulon Gardner
Silver: RUS Aleksandr Karelin
Bronze: BLR Dmitry Debelka


In 1 Samuel, Chapter 17, David, future king of Israel, faced Goliath, a monstrous Philistine warrior, but David showed that size and reputation does not always matter by defeating Goliath, hitting him in the forehead with a heavy stone thrown from his sling, knocking him to the ground and out. At Sydney Goliath was present in the person of [Aleksandr Karelin], Olympic champion in this class in 1998, 1992, and 1996, a 9-time World Champion, and a 12-time European Champion. Karelin had not been defeated since 1987 in any match. He was unscored upon in his preliminary matches and advanced to the final against the American David, [Rulon Gardner], who had lost to Karelin at the 1997 Worlds. The match was scoreless through the first period, but in the second period, Karelin lost a hand-grip and the judges awarded Gardner a point after reviewing the tape. That was all that was needed, as Gardner held on to win, 1-0, in what is considered the biggest upset in Olympic wrestling history.

Karelin retired after the Sydney Olympics and later entered politics. Gardner had a difficult time, almost dying once in the Wyoming winter wilderness in 2002 after he was stranded, and losing a toe to frostbite. He then almost died when a small plane in which he was flying crashed into frigid lake waters in Utah, and he and his companions were forced to swim for an hour to reach shore. Gardner would return to the 2004 Olympics and win a bronze medal. He later gained a lot of weight, and attempted to lose it to compete at the 2008 Olympics, but was unsuccessful. He did fight once in professional mixed martial arts.

View a Phase of this EventFinal StandingsFinal RoundSemi-finalsQuarter-finalsRound One

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal CP TP
1 Rulon Gardner 29 United States USA Gold
2 Aleksandr Karelin 32 Russia RUS Silver
3 Dmitry Debelka 24 Belarus BLR Bronze
4 Yuriy Yevseychyk 29 Israel ISR
5 Héctor Milián 32 Cuba CUB
6 Heorhiy Soldadze 27 Ukraine UKR
7 Giuseppe Giunta 27 Italy ITA 7 6
8 Fatih Bakir 23 Turkey TUR 6 4
9 David Vála 22 Czech Republic CZE 4 5
10 Eddy Bengtsson 21 Sweden SWE 4 5
11 Mihály Deák-Bárdos 25 Hungary HUN 4 0
12 Rafael Barreno 22 Venezuela VEN 3 4
13 Haykaz Galstyan 22 Armenia ARM 3 3
14 Zhao Hailin 23 China CHN 3 3
15 Omrane Ayari 28 Tunisia TUN 2 4
16 Helger Hallik 27 Estonia EST 1 2
17 Marek Sitnik 25 Poland POL 1 1
18 Laszlo Kovacs 29 Australia AUS 0 0
19 Sergei Mureico 30 Bulgaria BUL 0 0
20 Mirian Giorgadze 24 Georgia GEO 0 0