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London Olympics 2012: US women wrestlers answer the doubters

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But that didn’t stop Clarrisa Chun, a Honolulu native, from taking home a bronze medal for the American team on Wednesday. After losing to Mariya Stadnyk of Azerbaijan, who went on to take silver, Ms. Chun rallied in two hard-fought matches, knocking out tenacious wrestlers from Poland and Ukraine to earn third place and her first Olympic medal.

Growing up wrestling boys

Chun isn’t easily put off by a challenge, nor are her three teammates who also qualified for the Olympics this year. All of them grew up wrestling boys in high school, and have faced a lot of doubters in their years on the mat.

Campbell, an Alaskan-born wrestler who will compete in the 55-kilogram (121 pound) weight class in London on Thursday, knows what it’s like to have her abilities second-guessed.

An avid athlete in high school, Campbell was presented with a challenge from several of her guy friends. They dared her to join the school’s wrestling team, and they bet her that she couldn’t last two weeks.

“I just did it – kind of threw caution to the wind and went out,” she says. But she’s pretty sure the team’s coach didn’t take her seriously at first; witness the incident with the mop.

“I’m sure some people didn’t want me there,” she adds with a shrug. “You act like it’s not a big deal, but it is – kind of like a big white elephant in the room. I was the elephant.”

Campbell ended up lasting not just two weeks, but two seasons on her high school team in Oregon. She went on to wrestle in college at Arizona State, and at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs after that. She earned a gold medal at the Pan American games in 2011 before qualifying for the US Olympic team earlier this year.

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