|Olympic bronze medallist Carol Huynh shares a laugh with a colleague while attending the 2012 Women's World Wrestling Championships at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park on Saturday. (David Bloom/QMI AGENCY)
Carol Huynh is enjoying the different perspective.
The two-time Olympic medallist is not taking part in the 2012 Women’s World Wrestling Championships at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park.
Instead, Huynh is watching the event from the edge of the mat, still unwinding from the London Games.
“I’m actually really enjoying myself here,” Huynh said. “I love cheering on my teammates. On the one hand it’s tough, because you have no control over what’s happening and you just want the best for your teammates.
“But the fact that I’m not up there going through the same kind of pressures, I feel that I’m free to just enjoy the competition, which normally I don’t get to do. There are always a lot of nerves and excitement when you’re competing.”
Despite not taking part, Huynh, 31, is still the most recognizable wrestler at the event.
The product of Hazelton, B.C., burst onto the national spotlight by winning Canada’s first gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She then followed that up with a bronze this summer in London.
Her contribution to this weekend’s event came in the way of a speaking engagement with local school kids and an autograph session Saturday morning.
“Things have been hectic for me after the Olympics,” Huynh said. “But I think it’s a little different than last time. Last time with the gold medal, it was really, really exciting and I was the underdog so it was a little unexpected.
“This time around it was very different, because people knew who I was and I was expected to do very well at the Games. A bronze medal is fantastic, but at the same time it’s not a gold medal. Regardless, it’s been great, I’ve been having a lot of fun and getting to talk to a lot of the youth, which I think is essential if you’re going to be a role model for kids. I’m just taking the opportunity to enjoy it and share my experiences.”
Having started wrestling in high school, Huynh never imagined the sport would take her as far as it has. Huynh is an 11-time national champion and along with her Olympic success, she also has a Commonwealth Games gold, two Pan American Games championships and four World Championship medals to her name.
“I’ve just been doing what I’ve been doing for a long time and it’s one of those things where you set goals, and for me, I just wanted to be the best that I could be at it,” she said. “It just kind of happened eventually, and to me I was just doing what I was doing and it didn’t seem like a big deal to me.
“But now, I look back at my career and I think ‘Wow, I’ve had a pretty good career.’ It’s been great to be able to represent my country, travel the world and meet so many interesting people.”
Huynh’s success, has motivated her to try and give back to wrestling what it gave to her.
Huynh works hard to try and be an inspiration to the next generation of Canadian athletes.
“I go and do these talks and if I happen to inspire just one kid, that’s enough, that’s fantastic,” she said. “What more can you ask for? If they can be inspired to really believe in themselves and believe that they can really reach their goals, and have those big dreams, it’s a special treat.”
For now, Huynh has no plans to stop wrestling, even though she’s moved on to coaching.
She’s relocated to Alberta to coach the junior Dinos program at the University of Calgary. She’s also helping out with the varsity wrestling team at the University.
“Come January, I’ll probably start getting back into training and compete a little bit here and there,” Huynh said. “From there we’ll see. Four years is still along ways away. I’m still decompressing from the last Games, so it’s hard to think about the next ones.
“But for now I’m going to take it in day by day.”