American women swept the medals in saber fencing today. Mariel Zagunis won America’s first gold medal. First, she had to overcome Becca Ward, 15-11, in the semifinals.
Mariel then triumphed over top-ranked Sada Jacobson from Dunwoody, GA in the finals. Jacobson’s silver and Ward’s bronze put all three United States’ women on the medal stand. Zagunis and Jacobsen took gold and bronze in the Athens games in 2004.
Zagunis’s gold medal in Athens in 2004 was the first gold medal for the United States in fencing in over 100 years. This time, she again had to overcome the best in the world–her teammates.
In the finals, against No. 1 ranked Jacobson, Zagunis led throughout, in what was her most lopsided win of the competition, 15-8. Zagunis and Ward’s match in the semis was, according to Mariel, “the hardest bout I’ve ever fenced in my career”.
Afterwards, Ward left in tears. Both belong to the same Beaverton, OR fencing club.
The United States women have shown the world that American fencing has become a powerhouse. Jacobson and Ward were the top seeds. The American women are also favored to win the team gold. Jacobson won bronze in the 2004 Olympics, two NCAA saber championships at Yale in 2001 and 2002, and two NCAA championships in 2004 and 2006.
Ward won the gold medal at saber in the 2006 World Championships, beating Zagunis.
Zagunis will resume her education at Notre Dame, having taken time off after her first semester to prepare for the Olympics. Ward will begin her freshman year at Duke after the Olympics. Expect both to be competing against each other for NCAA and World Championships for years to come. Both Jacobson and Zagunis have parents who competed in the Olympics.
The United States had no medals prior to the fencing competition. Now, the U.S. is the only team with three medals.