In the world of top athletes, big is often equated with mighty. But today’s story reminds us that, sometimes, the best things come in small packages.
Today’s remarkable listing is a t-shirt signed by 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Clarissa Chun. I had the opportunity to meet this star athlete at the eBay campus, and her story is singular.
Clarissa was born in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. From an early age, Clarissa was a competitor: at swimming, at judo, and eventually, at wrestling. Her path towards the bronze medal had some surprising twists and turns. She competed in swimming (starting at age seven!), and was winning ribbons, but was jealous that her brother was winning trophies at judo. In order to amass her own trove of trophies, she also took up judo, and had great success in scoring trophies as well. Her mom encouraged her to go beyond just thinking of trophies, and to be the best she could be at judo by earning a black belt.
Fast forward to junior high, where a fledgling women’s wrestling team was being formed. The team consisted of Clarissa and one other girl. Her dilemma was that the wrestling and swimming seasons fell during the same part of the school year, so she had to choose one sport over the other. Being diminutive, she realized her chance of really excelling at swimming was slight; with wrestling, on the other hand, her strength and agility, and the proverbial “best things come in small packages,” allowed her to shine.
Maybe because of her judo training, or maybe just because she is an incredible athlete, Clarissa shined in her new chosen sport, and it dawned on her and those around her that she could compete at a higher level. A wrestling scholarship took her to Missouri for college, and from there her coaches encouraged her to move on and compete at a national, and soon an international, stage.
In 2004 she went to Athens as a spectator in the Games. She had placed second in the Olympic trials, and only one athlete in her weight class went on to actually compete. In 2008, she was the one who won the Olympic trials, and traveled to Beijing to compete for her country. In the bronze medal match, she lost to Iryna Merleni of the Ukraine, due to what she admits to being a lack of mental preparedness. But in 2012 she stormed back on the scene in London, and in a rematch of the competition of 2008, she managed to defeat Iryna and win the bronze medal.
Clarissa traces her success back to those coaches and others who inspired and helped her along the way. When she was ruminating over who she would want to benefit from her eBay purchase, she looked no further than her home state, to the small island of Kauai. While the other islands all had women’s wrestling, Kauai was a relative newbie to the scene, and Clarissa wanted to help. Her charity is the Westside Wrestling Club of Kauai.
When she asked them what they needed most, they explained how fundraisers held during the year had satisfied a lot of their needs – money for wrestling mats, wrestling shoes, etc., were all taken care of – but they could use medals, and Clarissa answered their call.
Hard work, dedication, and discipline are the marks of a true Olympian, and Clarissa shows these qualities in spades. Today’s remarkable find is a T-shirt, signed by Clarissa Chun, #BeInspired campaign T-Shirt shirt signed:
The seller, cradlegear13, has teamed up with the athletes participating in the #BeInspired campaign to sell these signed t-shirts. Unfortunately, the listing doesn’t give us a whole lot of information about the shirts – your best bet is to contact the seller to find out more!
We hope Clarissa makes it to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics. We will be rooting for her!
Take a look at this great video of Clarissa, as she tells her story in her own words: