Chun wrestles her way into record breaking second US Olympic team as Cejudo throws shoes to crowd and retires
Thursday, 26 April 2012
April 26 - Clarissa Chun (pictured left) became the first women's freestyle wrestler to join a second Olympic team following the 2012 United States Olympic Team Trials in Iowa, after which Beijing 2008 gold medallist Henry Cejudo retired.
After losing to Nick Simmons (pictured below in red) in the 55kg category at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Cejudo (pictured below in blue) threw his shoes into the crowd and declared his retirement, saying he wanted to help make the US a more united country.
"Do I need wrestling? No," said the 25 year old.
"What I do need is people, people who need help.
"That's what motivates me.
"My goal in life is to stop segregation, America is built on colours...on immigrants.
"It doesn't matter if you're purple, blue, pink, green, America is based on where your heart's at."
Sam Hazewinkel (pictured below in blue) beat Simmons in a best of three series to clinch his London spot, emulating his father Dave, who was an Olympian at the Munich Games in 1972 in Greco wrestling.
"It has been a long battle," said Hazewinkel.
"It says something about perseverance and keeping your head up and staying positive.
"The last few years, it got hard.
"You get that many seconds, and it becomes its own battle just thinking you can take first.
"We worked real hard on mental game this year and getting over that hump – I believed it paid off."
After a hard fought encounter with Alyssa Lampe, who pushed her all the way, Chun (pictured below in blue), a 2008 world champion, eventually saw off her opponent to seal her Olympic spot.
"I almost gave myself and my coaches a heart attack," said the 30-year-old, who came fifth in Beijing.
"My coach said, 'do you want me in your corner or what, because you're not hearing me, you're not listening to anything I'm saying'."In 2008, I was the underdog.
"Coming through that you're on momentum, on a high.
"You're like 'yeah, I'm only two matches away from making the Olympic team'.
"It's the same feeling as sitting out, but you don't get that momentum and high of winning each match."
Jared Frayer also booked a London slot after defeating Brent Metcalf in two straight bouts in the 66kg freestyle.
Jake Herbert, a 2009 World silver medallist, came from behind to beat Travis Paulson in the 84kg weight category, surviving a late rally from his opponent.
Tervel Dlagnev, who also claimed a medal at the 2009 World Championships, albeit bronze, beat Les Sigman in the 120kg to qualify for the Olympics, as did Ellis Coleman in the 60kg, beating double Olympic trials champion Joe Betterman with surprising ease.
Ben Provisor will be going to the Olympics at the age of just 21 after beating Aaron Sieracki in the 74kg, and is joined by Elena Pirozhkova after the 2010 World silver medallist claimed the 63kg crown with victory over Adeline Gray.
Though R. C. Johnson won the Greco 96kg title after overwhelming Pete Gounaridis, he will have to wait to seal his Olympic spot as the US have not secured a London place in his category yet.
That may still happen, but he will need a favour from Justin Ruiz when he competes in an Olympic qualifier in China this weekend.
One disappointed wrestler was 40-year-old Rulon Gardner – the shock winner of a gold medal at Sydney 2000, secured when he seized victory over the previously unbeatable Russian champion Alexander Karelin – as he failed to shed enough pounds to progress past the weigh in at Iowa.
There is still one final chance for American wrestlers to qualify for the Olympics at a qualifier in Helsinki, Finland, next month, and a yet to be confirmed wrestle off.
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April 2012: This will be my last wrestle on American soil, says top US Olympic contender ahead of trials
May 2011: Cejudo set for New York comeback
March 2011: Cejudo aims for gold again in 2012