Wrestling is being cut by the Olympics starting in 2020, so Gardner is trying to rally support for the sport. In addition to talking about saving Olympic wrestling, Gardner shared the story about how he lost a toe in 2002.
Gardner, who won gold at the 2000 Olympic Games and bronze at the 2004 Games in Greco-Roman wrestling, was snowmobiling with friends in Wyoming in 2002 and got separated from the group. As he was trying to get his snowmobile together, he fell into the water and ended up stranded. He spent 18 hours at 25 below zero and believed he was dying before being rescued.
“My core temperature was 80 degrees. My feet were frozen solid. I knew I was dying,” Gardner told The Sports Junkies. “I was foolish that day — I didn’t wear my winter jacket. I had T-shirt, sweatshirt and a fleece top.”
Gardner says he spent from 4:30 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. until the next morning frozen at temperatures between 25-30 below zero.
He was finally rescued and survived the life-threatening ordeal, though he did lose a toe and all feeling in his feet as a result.
Gardner was kind enough to show The Junkies what his nub foot looks like now. Keep in mind he doesn’t have feeling in the foot: