Olympic medalist Clarissa Chun hired as Iowa women’s wrestling coach

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The Iowa Women’s Wrestling Program officially has a coach.

Longtime USA Wrestling assistant and Olympic bronze medalist Clarissa Chun has been named the Hawkeyes’ first female wrestling head coach. It will be officially presented Friday afternoon in Iowa City.

“It is an honor to participate in a historic and exciting opportunity for young women across the country to compete as Hawkeyes in women’s wrestling,” Chun said in a college press release announcing her hiring.

“I would like to thank (director of athletics) Gary Barta, (senior female administrator) Barbara Burke and (male coach) Tom Brands for their initiative and leadership,” Chun continued, “which will have a positive and lasting impact. on the wrestling world.

“It didn’t happen overnight; it took a lot of hard work and investment on the part of community members and the University of Iowa administration, and I sincerely thank everyone who worked to make this happen. “

Chun’s hiring comes less than two months after Iowa became the first Division I Power 5 school to add women’s wrestling. The bill, which came in direct response to a Title IX lawsuit, has been called a “game changer” by the wrestling community.

“Clarissa is the perfect person to guide us on our journey towards creating a women’s wrestling championship program,” Barta said in a statement Thursday.

“His credentials speak for themselves, and his approach and philosophy fits well with our ‘Win’. Grad. Do it right. ‘ values.”

Chun, 40, from Hawaii, was once one of USA Wrestling’s most talented competitors. She won a world title in 2008 and Olympic bronze in 2012. She also won four US Open titles and five Pan American championship titles. Next June, she will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Fellow. She is one of four women to be honored as a Distinguished Member.

In 2017, Chun joined the USA Wrestling team as an assistant under the direction of Terry Steiner, head coach of the United States Women’s National Freestyle Team and former NCAA Champion for the Hawkeyes.

With Chun on the staff, the US women’s wrestling program surged. At this year’s last Olympics, the US women’s freestyle team won four medals, led by gold from Tamyra Mensah-Stock. To put it in perspective: The United States won five all-time Olympic medals in women’s freestyle before winning four in Tokyo.

The US women’s freestyle wrestling team added seven more medals at the 2021 senior world championships in October, placing second behind Japan, the world leader in international women’s wrestling.

“I am grateful for the leadership and mentorship of Coach Terry Steiner and look forward to continuing our partnership and developing future National, World and Olympic Champions for the United States of America,” said Chun. “I cannot thank USA Wrestling enough for helping me grow as a person and a coach.

“It is a privilege to be part of the Hawkeye brand. With that comes great responsibility and high expectations. I am ready to take on these challenges and am excited to build a winning program in Iowa City, Wrestling Town USA.

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Chun will now bring that experience and expertise to Iowa, where expectations are already high. The Hawkeye women’s wrestling team will not start competing until the 2023-24 season. Hiring assistant coaches and recruiting is probably next on the to-do list.

“Gary Barta and Barbara Burke said from the start that they would target the best person for the job and that’s exactly what they did,” Brands said Thursday.

“Clarissa Chun has charisma. She has credentials. She has championships. She commands respect and the wrestlers who come to school here are going to love her. It’s a big deal for the University of Iowa. . “

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.


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