Clarissa Chun Video Interview, U.S. Olympic Bronze Medalist Wrestler
Clarissa Chun knocked off the 2004 gold medalist, Irini Merleni of Ukraine, to give the USA its first Olympic medal in wrestling in the 2012 Games. The win also avenged a 2008 bronze medal match loss to Merleni. Going into the Olympics, Chun had experienced some disturbance as her coach Keith Wilson left the team for unspecified personal reasons. “She went through a lot of turmoil in the last month. I’m just happy for her that she could keep it together,” U.S. national women’s coach Terry Steiner told the Detroit Free Press. “Her main coach isn’t here for her. I mean she really had to get to the point that she could get this done and she could do it herself.”
Chun has a background in Judo, having won five junior national championships. In 1998, her junior year of high school, Chun won the state championship and repeated the following year. She later attended Missouri Valley College and, in 2002, was one of the first 20 women ever invited to the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Colo., for wrestling. She graduated from the University of Colorado in 2005.
Born to a Japanese-American mother and Chinese-American father, Chun spoke of the immense pride she felt in not just representing the United States, but also Hawaii. “I take a lot of pride representing the United States, definitely,” Chun told Uinterview exclusively. “I can even go deeper. I’ll take a lot of pride representing Hawaii. We’re just a little small island off the Pacific and we’re very prideful. The spirit of Hawaii is, anytime someone comes out of Hawaii and does something great, I feel like I have the whole island behind me.”
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I got into wrestling my junior year in high school with a judo background and went to Missouri Valley College where I continued freestyle wresting, international style, and then moved to the training center in 2002. I just love competing and it basically roots from judo, I believe.
It was awesome, because we were one of the few states to have girls and boys wrestling separate. We had our own girls' state tournament in Hawaii, and to be the first Hawaiian woman wrestling Olympian or wrestling Olympian period, is just huge. You know, it gives a lot of Hawaiian girls in high school something to strive for if they choose to.
I take a lot of pride representing the United States — definitely. I can even go deeper because I take a lot of pride representing Hawaii. We're just a small island off the Pacific, and we're very prideful. The spirit of Hawaii is, anytime anyone comes out of Hawaii and does anything great, I feel I have the whole island behind me.