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|Clarissa Chun still alive, needs 1 win to reach bronze-medal match
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Clarissa Chun scores the winning takedown against two-time World bronze medalist Shasha Zhou of China. John Sachs photo.
LONDON – Clarissa Chun wrestled in the bronze-medal match at the 2008 Olympic Games.
She could have that opportunity again at the 2012 Olympics.
Chun needs one win in the repechage wrestlebacks to reach the Olympic bronze-medal match again in women’s freestyle wrestling.
Chun lost to World champion Maria Stadnyk of Azerbaijan in the second round, but will now wrestle back after Stadnyk made the finals before a sellout crowd of 6,500 fans Wednesday at the ExCel North Arena 2.
Chun will face past World bronze medalist Iwona Matkowska of Poland in the repechage. The winner will meet 2004 Olympic champion Irina Merleni of Ukraine in the bronze-medal match. Merleni beat Chun for bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
Chun beat Matkowska in the 2011 World Championships. The Chun-Matkowska match will be wrestled at around 6 p.m. (1 p.m. Eastern) in London.
Chun opened with a 5-0, 1-0 victory over two-time World bronze medalist Shasha Zhou of China at 48 kg/105.5 lbs. Chun spun behind Zhou for a takedown before adding a pair of two-point gut wrenches in the first period. Chun won a ball draw after a scoreless second period and finished in the leg clinch to prevail.
Chun then ran into Stadnyk in the second round. The powerful Stadnyk took control early to earn a 2-0, 3-0 victory over Chun, a 2008 World champion. Chun placed fifth at the 2008 Olympics.
American Elena Pirozhkova dropped her first match in three periods to 2012 European runner-up Anastasija Grigorjeva of Latvia. Pirozhkova won the first period 2-0 on a pair of takedowns before the Latvian prevailed 5-0, 2-0 in the final two periods at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.
“She definitely had a good strategy,” Pirozhkova said. “She kept pressuring me and trying to wear me out. I felt pretty confident going into the match. I had studied her and had a good game plan. But it was a higher pace than I expected. I couldn’t sustain the match pace. I have a lot more conditioning I need to work on.”
Pirozhkova was eliminated when Grigorjeva fell short of reaching the finals.
“We didn’t find a way to slow her down and raise our level up,” U.S. Assistant Coach Vladislav Izboinikov said. “We just got exposed out there. We have to be able to wrestle at a higher pace and get in the fight. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that today.”
Day 5 of the eight-day Olympic wrestling tournament is scheduled for Thursday at the ExCel Center. Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. (8 a.m. Eastern Time) in London. Fans can watch a live webcast of the event on nbcolympics.com.
Americans Kelsey Campbell (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) and Ali Bernard (New Ulm, Minn./Gator WC) are scheduled to compete on Thursday. Campbell competes at 55 kg/121 lbs. and Bernard wrestles at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.
Campbell placed fifth in the 2010 World Championships at 59 kg/130 lbs. Bernard placed third in the 2011 Worlds and fifth in the 2008 Olympic Games.
ExCel Center, London, England
48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Hitomi Sakamoto Obara (Japan) vs. Maria Stadnyk (Azerbaijan)
63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Kaori Icho (Japan) vs. Rui Xue Jing (China)
48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Clarissa Chun, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
WIN Shasha Zhou (China), 5-0, 1-0
LOSS Maria Stadnyk (Azerbaijan), 0-2, 0-3
vs. Iwona Matkowska (Poland) in repechage
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Elena Pirozhkova, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
LOSS Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia), 2-0, 0-5, 0-2