American fencer Mariel Zagunis will shoot for her third consecutive Olympic gold medal in saber today.
(Photo credit: Harry How, Getty Images)
If there is one name in fencing you should know it’s that of saber fencer Mariel Zagunis.
A two-time gold medal winner in the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics, Zagunis – who served as the flag bearer for the United States during the London Opening Ceremony – is looking to complete a “hat trick” today in London.
Why is she considered “the queen” of U.S. Fencing? When competing in the Athens game in 2004, Zagunis became the first U.S. fencer in 100 years to win an Olympic gold medal, and to win a second gold medal was unheard of for U.S. Fencing. Yet just four years later, she did so. Not to mention her fencing resume is one that would impress anyone. The 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2005 FIE Senior World Cup Champion are just a few titles to name under her belt.
Winning a third time will be tough for Zagunis, as her competition in the saber event is as fierce as she is. She will compete against the current world champion, Sofiya Velikaya of Russia, who actually beat Zagunis last year for the title by one point. Zagunis will also have to deal with Olga Kharlan of the Ukraine, who has been a three-time European champion.
Another powerful competitor battling for the gold is four-time African champion Azza Besbes of Tunisia, who was the first African and Arab woman to reach the fencing quarterfinals at the Olympics in 2008.
To watch Zagunis battle for the gold medal today, and for all the latest news on the U.S. Fencing team, check out NBC’s fencing page.