Gold medalist, now 474 pounds, competing on 'Biggest Loser'

When he won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics, American wrestler Rulon Gardner weighed 286 pounds. A few months ago, he tipped the scales at 474. He knew something had to be done.

Gardner hopes to accomplish his weight-loss goals while competing on the hit NBC reality show "The Biggest Loser." The 11th season of the program began on Tuesday night, with Gardner competing to lose the most weight and earn a $250,000 prize.

[Photos: See the rest of the 'Biggest Loser' Season 11 cast]

At the Sydney Games in 2000, Gardner pulled one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history when he earned a 1-0 victory over Russian wrestler Alexander Karelin in the Greco-Roman super-heavyweight division. Karelin hadn't lost an international match in 13 years and was 59-0 in Olympic competition. He hadn't so much as given up a single point in six years and was the three-time defending gold medalist. Gardner stunned him in overtime of their match, an upset on par with the Miracle on Ice.

Now he's hoping for another grand achievement:

Gardner grew up as one of nine children on a dairy farm in Utah. He had only wrestled in one international competition prior to Sydney. He followed up his Olympic gold with a bronze medal in Athens.

[Related: Ex-NFL star picks up odd new sport]

Since his Olympic glory, Gardner has had a tough go at it. His toe was amputated after suffering from frostbite following a snowmobile accident, he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle, and he survived a plane crash that left he and two other men in frigid waters for over an hour.

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After defeating the greatest wrestler in the world, losing a toe and surviving a plane crash, Rulon Gardner knows all about overcoming adversity. Losing weight is his next great challenge.

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