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SYDNEY Australia AP -- Rulon Gardner did the unthinkable He beat the unbeatable He proved that Alexander Karelin isnt perfect -- and he won a gold medal that virtually nobody in the world thought he could win Gardner never an NCAA champion never a world medalist ended Karelins string of three Olympic gold medals and 13-year unbeaten streak by winning the Olympic super heavyweight wrestling gold medal 1-0 Wednesday Miracle on ice This was the miracle on the mat When did I think I could beat him About 10 minutes ago Gardner said I kept saying I think I can I think I can But it wasnt until it was over that I knew I could Karelin is universally considered the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all time a man who had never lost in international competition who had not been scored upon in 10 years And Gardner beat him stunning a crowd that included IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch who had come to present Karelin with his fourth gold medal -- the medal he wouldnt get What does this mean He just beat the best wrestler in the history of wrestling -- a wrestler who had never been beaten US national Greco-Roman coach Steve Fraser said The upset was so stunning that virtually no one in the crowd in the Sydney Exhibition Hall outside of Gardners immediate family could believe it Nor could Karelin who Gardner said mumbled a few words at me in Russian toward the end I dont know what he said but I think I was I give up Karelin said less than that after the match declining to talk to reporters The Russians gold medal was seen as a lock As big a lock as the Soviet Union was to beat a bunch of US collegians in hockey in 1980
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