Local Olympic gold medal winning brothers: where they are now

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COMSTOCK, Wis. (WEAU) -- Two local brothers won gold medals in the 1970s; Sunday, WEAU caught up with one of them to see where the brothers are in their lives 40 years after the fact.

40 years ago, brothers from Barron County brought home two Olympic medals marking the second straight Olympiad both John and Ben Peterson won wrestling medals. But what are the brothers doing today?

One gold, one silver; two brothers have the same Olympic credentials and haven’t left the sport they both cherish. Ben lives in Southern Wisconsin and hosts wrestling clinics all over the nation that John helps out with in the summer. John works with the group Athletes in Action at UW-Eau Claire with the wrestling team and lives in the same house he grew up in in Comstock in Barron County.

John says wrestling has evolved over the years in Olympic competition and so have the prizes and fame.

"There was no prize money then,” John said. “It was illegal to receive monetary compensation for competition."

John won a gold medal in 1976, but four years earlier, his younger brother, Ben, took the cake at the same time John was getting beat in the gold medal match.

“There’s a picture of us in the other room hugging each other,” John said. “We actually had our final match at the same time. I’ve often told people it was more exciting to win a silver medal than it was for me to win a gold. In the middle of it (my match), I was tempted to see how he was doing, but of course I couldn’t do that. I had to wait for my match.”

And when the two came back from their first Olympics, the welcome was worth the blood and sweat.

"It was a big thing and it was probably bigger than I realized,” John said. “The governor of Wisconsin came up to this little town in Wisconsin and then they gave us a huge welcoming home ceremony and our lives changed."

The brothers don't talk about their Olympic immortality as much as they used to, but the memories of representing their country on the highest level will never fade.

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