Photo Gallery: Clarissa Chun wins bronze
LONDON » Clarissa Chun was ready this time. She had wrestled with her emotions and tamed them. That’s why she was wearing a bronze medal around her neck.
Four years ago in Beijing, Chun lost in a bronze-medal 105.5-pound wrestling match to Ukraine’s Irini Merleni.
On Wednesday, Chun found herself once again staring across the mat at Merleni. And the bronze was again on the line.
Talk about a chance for revenge.
"I wanted another shot," Chun said. "She’s a beast, you know. She tries to intimidate a lot of people. This time I was not going to fall for it."
Chun, a Roosevelt High alum who resides in Colorado Springs, Colo., defeated Merleni, one of the most decorated females in wrestling history, 1-0, 3-0. When the match ended, Chun sprinted around the mat with an American flag held above her head. She waved at the 32 friends and family who had traveled from her native Hawaii to watch her compete.
Several minutes later, her joy level remained sky high.
"Yes, yes, yes!" she said while handling her bronze medal. "It’s good to feel this."
Chun took a new approach to overcoming adversity on her way to the bronze-medal match. At Beijing, she was, in her words, "an emotional wreck" after a defeat eliminated her from contention for the gold medal. That’s one reason Merleni defeated her for the bronze.
This time, Chun quickly embraced poise after a 1-0, 3-0 defeat to Azerbaijan’s Maria Stadnik. She remained calm even after she lost a chance at gold.
She’s also worked to tame her tendency to become too focused on perfection. Chun once scolded herself during breaks in matches, wondering why she had failed to come closer to perfection. Now, she accepts the recent past and focuses on the next few minutes.
Her new-found peace and focus served her well. Chun was impressive in the next match, pinning Poland’s Iwona Matkowski in the second period. This set up her battle with Merleni, a 2004 gold-medal winner.
Chun scored in the first period with a double-leg takedown and then clinched the victory, and the bronze, with a three-point arm throw late in the second period.
Soon, she was dancing and laughing and pointing to her friends and family. She had vanquished Merleni and banished all the bad memories from Beijing.
Chun, 30, is a 2005 graduate of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She remains unsure if she will pursue a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics.
"I thought I would know, but I don’t know," she said.