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Gable: Welcome competition in life

Heart of New Ulm 5th Annual Community Summit

November 16, 2012
By Fritz Busch - Staff Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM - A man voted one of the top 100 Olympians of all time talked about motivation, leadership and positively affecting the masses at the Heart Of New Ulm (HONU) 5th Annual Community Summit Thursday at the New Ulm Event Center.

"The difference between a mediocre person and a champion is mental attitude, one who doesn't give up. Most people give up too easily," said Dan Gable. "You have to welcome competition. You can't escape it in life. Competition brings out the best in a person and all those around him."

As a high school sophomore and defending Iowa wrestling champion, Gable said he heard 1952 Olympic pole vault champion Bob Richards talk and bought his book "The Heart of a Champion." The book is a bit frayed around the edges, but Gable held it as he spoke Thursday.

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Dan Gable, an Olympic gold medal winner in wrestling, spoke at the Heart of New Ulm 5th Annual Community Summit on Thursday.

"I needed the book," Gable said. "Two weeks later, my sister was murdered. Our family was never the same, but it kept me on the narrow. I knew my family needed entertainment, so I provided it with my wrestling."

He talked about people improving their lifestyles by not giving into temptation, beating addiction, creating change for a better future and positively affecting the masses.

"Helping others comes back to you. Find a way to recover daily so you wake up ready to go, like I do daily," said Gable, who won 182 of 183 high school and collegiate wrestling matches and was the 1972 Olympic wrestling champion.

Gable said he felt pressure as a wrestling coach not as an athlete.

"'3-2-1. It's my time to perform' is the way I felt when I wrestled," he said.

Gable displayed a subtle sense of humor at times.

"I'm an Iowa guy, but I love Minnesota," he said. "I own a fishing cabin up North. It's a nine-hour drive from Iowa City. I drive up there, ride a stationary bike, sit in a hot sauna, jump in the lake, even if it's frozen, and do it again, It revives me physically and mentally."

He said everyone has challenges. Wrestlers want to win medals. Other people just want to live.

Gable urged people to use their support networks.

"There are many people willing to help you in life," he said. "Just talk to them."

Earlier in the evening, New Ulm's two-time Olympic wrestler Ali Bernard said when she needed motivation and support, she'd talk about goals with teammates. Lately, she said she enjoys running with her dog.

Jackie Boucher, Education Vice President of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, said HONU's story about people getting active, eating healthier and improving their health is getting national recognition.

Project stories were published in "Diabetic Living" magazine, a story next month in "EatingWell"?magazine, requests from medical journals plus invitations to present the story to national health professional meetings.

A video was shown about HONU participants making healthy changes like losing weight by eating more fruits and vegetables, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and becoming more active.

New Ulm Medical Center physician Dr. Charles Stephens said health record data shows community risk factor results for 40-79-year-olds since HONU began four years ago indicates participants are making bigger health improvements than national trends.

The eight-week Holiday Trimmings program with tips and strategies to help avoid gaining weight over the holidays begins Nov. 19. For more information, visit or call 507-217-5945.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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