Clarissa Chun (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) was named 2012 Women's Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling. It is the first time in her career that Chun has received this award.
Chun won a bronze medal at 48 kg/105 lbs. at the 2012 London Olympic Games, the only U.S. women's wrestler to earn a medal at the Olympics. She became the fourth U.S. wrestler to win an Olympic medal in women's freestyle wrestling.
Chun had an inspiring performance on the way to her medal, which was the first medal won by an American in any style in London. She opened with a victory over World medalist Shasha Zhou of China, then was defeated in her second match by World champion Maria Stadnyk of Azerbaijan. In the repechage, she stopped another World medalist, Iwona Matkowska of Poland to earn a spot in the bronze-medal round.
Chun beat 2004 Olympic champion Irini Merlini of Ukraine for the bronze medal, 1-0, 3-0. It was Merlini who had beaten Chun in the bronze-medal match at the 2008 Olympic Games, where Chun placed fifth.
She qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team with a victory over Alyssa Lampe in the best-of-three finals series in Iowa City, Iowa. She won the deciding third match of the series to become the first American woman to qualify for two different Olympic Teams.
She won a gold medal at the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifying Event in Kissimmee, Fla. in March, which qualified the USA to compete at her weight class in the London Olympics.
Chun also competed at the 2012 World Championships in Canada, which were held shortly after the Olympic Games, where she placed ninth. Other placements in 2012 were fifth places at the Mongolia Open and the Canada Cup.
Her season opened with a victory at the 2012 U.S. Open, held in December 2011 in Texas.
Chun has been a nationally-ranked star in women's wrestling for over a decade. In 2008, Chun won a World gold medal, now one of only seven U.S. women to ever win a Senior World title in wrestling.
She was seventh in the 2011 World Championships and ninth in the 2009 World Championships and a member of the 2000 World Team.
She had a successful age-group career, placing fourth in the 2004 University World Championships and eighth in the 2000 Junior World Championships.
Chun competed in college for Missouri Valley College, which was at the time the top program in women's college wrestling. She completed her degree in communications at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs after becoming a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete.
She is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, where she won two Hawaii state girls high school titles for Roosevelt High School.
PAST WOMEN'S WRESTLER OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS
2012 - Clarissa Chun, Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunkist Kids
2011 - Ali Bernard, New Ulm, Minn., Gator WC
2010 - Elena Pirozhkova, Colorado Springs, Colo., Gator WC
2009 - Deanna Rix, Colorado Springs, Colo., New York AC
2008 - Randi Miller, Colorado Springs, Colo., Gator WC
2007 - Kristie Marano, Colorado Springs, Colo., New York AC
2006 - Kristie Marano, Colorado Springs, Colo., New York AC
2005 - Iris Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. U.S. Army
2004 - Sara McMann, Lock Haven, Pa., Sunkist Kids
2003 - Patricia Miranda, Colorado Springs, Colo., Dave Schultz WC
2002 - Kristie Marano, Albany, N.Y., ATWA
2001 - Toccara Montgomery, Cleveland, Ohio, Sunkist Kids
2000 - Kristie Marano, Albany, N.Y., ATWA
1999 - Tricia Saunders, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1998 - Kristie Stenglein, Albany, N.Y., ATWA
1997 - Sandra Bacher, San Jose, Calif., Dave Schultz WC
1996 - Tricia Saunders, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1995 - Vickie Zummo, Hamburg, N.J., New York AC
1994 - Shannon Williams, Ontario, Calif., Sunkist Kids
1993 - Tricia Saunders, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids