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Clarissa Chun primed for another shot at Olympic gold medal

Craig Sesker USA Wrestling

Clarissa Chun is looking to become the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling. John Sachs photo.

LONDON – Women's wrestling makes its third appearance in the Olympic Games next week and the U.S. is taking aim at capturing its first gold medal in that style.

Clarissa Chun is hoping to break through and become the first American to accomplish that feat.

Chun, a 2008 World champion who reached the 2008 Olympic semifinals, will take the mat at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. for the 2012 Olympics on Aug. 8 at the ExCel Center.

“I’m very excited to have another opportunity to wrestle in the Olympics,” she said. “It’s a great event, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do.”

Chun and her teammates were in London for the Opening Ceremonies and also met First Lady Michelle Obama at the team’s training facility at the University of East London.

“It’s exciting to be in my second Olympics,” Chun said. “It was a fun experience to take part in the Opening ceremonies again. It was great to meet the First Lady. She was awesome and very down to earth.”

The team then traveled to Marquise, France, where it has been training this week. The women return to London next week.

“Training is going good,” Chun said. “We’ve been able to catch up on rest and focus on getting the job done. I have been watching the Olympics on French television, and keeping up with it a little bit.”

Chun, 30, has been slowed this Olympic cycle by injuries, but she appears to be hitting her peak again.

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m excited. My body feels good and I’m down to weight. I have nothing to complain about.”

Chun is part of a strong U.S. team that also includes World silver medalist Elena Pirozhkova, World bronze medalist Ali Bernard and World fifth-place finisher Kelsey Campbell. Bernard placed fifth at the 2008 Olympics.

Chun and Bernard are the first U.S. women to be two-time Olympians in wrestling.

“Everyone on the team is looking good and feeling good,” Chun said. “I think our team can do real well at the Olympics. We have a lot of experience.”

Chun nearly made the Olympic finals in 2008 in Beijing. She had the lead late in her semifinal match against Chiharu Icho of Japan before falling. Chun ended up fifth.

“I always feel like I can learn from each tournament I compete in,” she said. “I learned from that experience. I need to go out there and wrestle my best and have no regrets when I walk off the mat.”

Chun rebounded from the 2008 Olympics to win a World title a couple of months later in Tokyo, Japan. She is one of just five U.S. women to win a World title in wrestling.

Chun is known for being a wrestler who relies on her quickness and her technique. She’s also become stronger despite being smaller than some of her opponents.

“I need to fight for every point,” she said. “I need to stay in the match from beginning to end, and use what I’m good at from my speed to my technique. I need to wrestle my style.

“I just have to go hard all six minutes. I have to stay focused, and get after it and go.”
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