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U.S. Women’s Saber and Men’s Foil Teams Win Gold at Pan American Games

10/29/2011, 1:45am CDT
By No Author

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – The U.S. Women’s Saber and Men’s Foil Teams continued Team USA’s undefeated streak in the team event on Friday at the Pan American Games when both squads earned gold. 

Following its bronze medal win at the Senior World Championships in Catania two weeks ago, the women’s saber team opened with a 45-36 win over Cuba and defeated the Dominican Republic, 45-12, in the semifinals.

Fencing for gold, the team of Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.), Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) and Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) faced the host nation Mexican team.

“We’ve had a lot of experience facing home teams,” said Wozniak who served as the anchor for the team earlier in the day during the quarter-final bout against Cuba. “I mean, we just fought the Italians in Italy and tonight we faced the Mexicans in Mexico. Mentally, we were prepared to go out there and fence well.”

Wozniak gave Team USA an early, 5-2, lead that the team grew throughout the match. Up 40-24 going into the final bout, Zagunis closed the win for Team USA, 45-29.

“The U.S. has been able to win so many medals at the Pan Ams,” said Muhammad who won each of her three bouts during the match. “It’s such a great feeling to know that we’re part of that success.”

Zagunis, who also won gold in the individual event, said she has enjoyed having an opportunity to compete for the first time at the Pan American Games this week.

“This is one of very few, if not the only, fencing competitions that I’ve competed in that has no pressure to qualify somewhere else. I’ve really enjoyed my time here,” said the two-time Olympic Champion who is coming off a silver medal individual finish at the Senior Worlds. “Guadalajara has been so fun, especially being able to sightsee during one of our free days, and interacting with other countries from the Americas as well as U.S. athletes from other sports. It’s also been great to be in an Olympic setting without the Olympic pressure.”

Following his gold medal win in the individual foil event on Tuesday, Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) earned his second title of the week when he and teammates 2008 Olympian Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) and Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa.) defeated Canada in the final.

“Of course it was great to win an individual medal,” said Massialas of his individual win earlier this week. “But to win a team medal on top of that – and both for Team USA – that’s incredible.”

The team, who defeated Cuba and Mexico earlier in the day, led the match from the second bout and Meinhardt anchored the squad to a 45-29 win in his Pan American Games debut.

Competition will conclude on Saturday when the U.S. Men’s Saber and Women’s Epee Teams take the strip in an attempt to sweep the Pan Am Games team titles.

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