2012 Olympic Champion
2012 Olympic Champion
2012 Bronze Medalist
2012 Bronze Medalist
Living the Dream Medal Fund
LONDON – What a spectacular way to end the Olympic Games!
American Jake Varner strikes gold in a memorable performance on the mat.
Jake is normally pretty low-key and laid back, so it was great to see him flexing, pumping his fist and running around with the American flag after winning an Olympic gold medal on Sunday.
He earned it! Jake wrestled superbly, and showed great composure in winning an Olympic freestyle title at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. It was great to see Jake share the moment with his mentor and coach, 2004 Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson.v What a finish to the Olympics with Jordan Burroughs and Varner winning gold on two of the final three days. Coleman Scott grabbed an Olympic bronze medal in between those two titles.
After writing my story on Jake’s big win, I ventured over to the U.S. Olympic Committee press office to grab a couple of tickets for the Closing Ceremonies with colleague Jason Bryant.
We were joined by volleyball press officers B.J. Evans and Bill Kauffman at Olympic Stadium. We had great seats in the press tribune, sitting in a row that had tables and comfortable chairs.
What a show it was! They have some of the greatest musicians on the planet here. It was great to see The Who, George Michael, Queen, the Spice Girls, Annie Lenox and Ray Davies perform, among others.
I loved the tribute they had to the great John Lennon, where they showed the video of him singing his memorable song, “Imagine." That gave me goose bumps.
The Who capped a great evening with a great performance. It was a perfect way to end an outstanding 16 days of competition here in London.
I slept in this morning before doing some shopping and sightseeing with my friend Bill Kellick, a press officer for Taekwondo. We saw Big Ben, the Parliament and Buckingham Palace, among other attractions.
We took the train, and ran into Nebraska coach Mark Manning, who coached Jordan Burroughs to a gold medal here. Mark is headed off to Spain for a well-deserved vacation with his wife. Mark is a good friend. I will never forget the smile on his face when Jordan won the gold here. What a great moment!
This was only my second Olympics, and it was another incredible experience. I can’t wait for the next one, in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!
Thanks to everyone for reading this over the last few weeks. I enjoyed bringing you a little insight into what I’ve been up to here in London. I fly home tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to seeing my beautiful daughter, Hayley, and returning to the best country on the planet!
It’s been a lot of fun here at the Olympics Games!
LONDON – I know I talked about it in my last entry, but who says you don’t win a bronze medal.
Obviously, athletes are shooting for the gold medal in wrestling.
But seeing Clarissa Chun capture a bronze medal at the Olympic Games on Wednesday night was a special moment. Very special.
Especially when you consider all of what Clarissa has endured. I remember having to interview her when she lost to Mary Kelly in a wrestle-off for the U.S. spot in the 2006 World Championships. Clarissa broke down and was emotional, and it was understandable.
She spent years trying to be the No. 1 girl in the U.S. It finally happened in 2008 when she made the Olympic Team and then won a World title later that year.
I actually thought she wrestled better at the Olympics in 2008, even though she won Worlds. The Olympic field was stronger, and she advanced to the semifinals. She beat Sweden’s Sofia Mattson in the first round. Mattson later went on to win a World title after bumping up a weight class.
Chun had the lead late in the Olympic semifinals against Japan’s Chiharu Icho before Icho rallied late in the match to win. Chun then lost in the bronze-medal match to Ukraine’s Irini Merleni, the 2004 Olympic champion.
I remember bringing Clarissa back to be interviewed after she lost in the semis and in the third-place match in Beijing, China. She was devastated and heartbroken, and couldn’t stop crying. It was difficult to see because I knew how much it meant to her.
To her credit, Clarissa came back this Olympic cycle. She battled injuries and survived a tough three-match battle against 2010 World Team member Alyssa Lampe to win the Olympic Trials in April.
Chun persevered though. She received a really tough draw for the 2012 Olympics, but swept the two-time World bronze medalist from China in the first round. She fell to World champion Maria Stadnyk, but received a chance to wrestle back when Stadnyk made the finals.
This time, Chun was ready to win a medal. She hit a sweet cement mixer to pin a World bronze medalist from Poland to advance to a rematch with Merleni for bronze.
Chun came out focused and delivered to win the match over Merleni in two straight periods.
Her emotions came pouring out as she ran around the mat holding the American flag above her head as the sellout crowd of 6,500 fans stood and applauded.
It wasn’t the gold medal she dreamed about, but she did an amazing job to win a bronze medal. Yes, I did say “win” a bronze medal.
Clarissa is one of the sweetest and nicest people I have ever worked with, and she deserves to celebrate winning a medal. That may be the best she's ever wrestled.
Kudos to Clarissa for winning the first medal of the Olympics for the U.S. in wrestling. She did a great job.
Team USA still has nine more opportunities to win medals. Let’s keep it going.
I ran into U.S. referee Rick Tucci shortly after the wrestling competition on Wednesday night. Rick was sitting at an outdoor table smoking cigars with seven-time World champion and Olympic champion Valentin Jordanov of Bulgaria.
I couldn’t resist asking Jordanov, “Why did you let Zeke beat you?”
Jordanov got a good chuckle out of that one. U.S. National Coach Zeke Jones beat Jordanov in the 1991 World freestyle finals in Jordanov’s home country of Bulgaria.
Jordanov did gain redemption of sorts when he won an Olympic title in the U.S. – in 1996 in Atlanta.v I enjoyed chatting with Rick, who is working his seventh and possibly last Olympic Games. He has traveled to over 100 countries in his long and distinguished tenure as one of the world’s best officials.
2012 Olympic Team
Men’s Freestyle Team
55 kg - Sam Hazewinkel
60 kg – Coleman Scott
66 kg – Jared Frayer
74 kg – Jordan Burroughs
84 kg – Jake Herbert
96 kg – Jake Varner
120 kg – Tervel Dlagnev
Greco-Roman World Team
55 kg - Spenser Mango
60 kg – Ellis Coleman
66 kg – Justin Lester
74 kg – Ben Provisor
84 kg – Chas Betts
120 kg – Dremiel Byers
Women’s Freestyle Team
48 kg – Clarissa Chun
55 kg - Kelsey Campbell
63 kg – Elena Pirozhkova
72 kg – Ali Bernard