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Carol Huynh

Canada's Carol Huynh (C) celebrates with team officials after defeating Japan's Chiharu Icho during their women's 48kg gold medal match at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

SFU grad grapples Olympic gold

August 22, 2008

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By Stuart Colcleugh

SFU’s own Carol Huynh captured Canada’s first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics Aug. 16, securing the 48-kg women’s freestyle wrestling title while her long-time mentor, SFU wrestling coach Mike Jones, watched on TV from Vancouver.

Huynh, who earned a BA in psychology with a minor in kinesiology from SFU in 2004, is only the second Canadian ever to earn an Olympic gold medal in wrestling. The first was SFU grad student Daniel Igali, another Clan wrestling alumnus, who won the 69-kg men’s freestyle wrestling title at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Jones, a North American coaching legend, “recruited me to come to SFU in 1998 after I graduated from high school,” recalls Huynh, a 27-year-old Hazelton, B.C. native whose parents came to Canada as refugees from Vietnam in 1980.

“Mike Jones and the Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club kept me going as a wrestler,” she says. “They funded me to international competitions and training camps and supported me domestically as well.

“Without their belief in me and my potential I would not be where I am today.”

“She did a great job,” says Jones about the gold-medal performance of his former protégé who he last coached during the national Olympic trials in December.

“I gave her a hard time about holding back until the most opportune time because she’s been capable of winning gold for at least the last two or three years. She’s always had the talent.”

Huynh (appropriately pronounced win) began competing for Canada in 2000 at the Junior World Championships and was an alternate at the 2004 Olympic Games. In addition to Olympic gold, she won an individual gold at the 2003 Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships. She also has three world championship medals, winning silver in 2001 and bronze in 2000 and 2005, and a gold medal from the 2007 Pan American Games.

Huynh's four-year career record with the Clan is 105-26 – more victories than any other wrestler in the history of the varsity women's program and only 11 wins shy of Igali's perfect 116-0-0 record.

She continued training at SFU after graduation until 2007 when she moved to Calgary, her husband’s hometown, to pursue a master’s degree in sports psychology and train with national women's coach Leigh Vierling.

During Jones’ 31 years as head coach, SFU’s wrestling program has won two National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics men's team titles and six women's titles, and produced more individual champions than any other comparable program in North America.

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