(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) and Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) each earned gold medals on Tuesday to extend the USA Fencing Team’s record to four golds in each of the four events contested so far this week.
Following in the footsteps of his father Greg Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.), a three-time Olympian and former Pan Am Games Team member, the 17-year-old foil fencer dominated his opponents throughout the day as he gave up no more than seven of a possible 15 touches to any of his competitors.
In the semifinals, Massialas earned a convincing win against Guilherme Toldo, the Brazilian who had defeated Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa.), 15-13, in the table of 16. Massialas defeated Toldo, 15-7, to advance to the finals against Felipe Alvear (CHI).
Although Alvear injured his foot during the first period, he continued the bout and Massialas racked up a 15-5 win.
The Pan Am Games title is the first senior international gold medal for Massialas who earned the silver at the Pan Am Championships in Reno in July and has won titles at both the Junior and Cadet World Championships.
“It’s a bummer that Felipe got hurt because it means he couldn’t fight his hardest, but it’s still an honor to win a Pan American Games medal for Team USA,” said Massialas who also noted that he has enjoyed his first Pan Am Games experience so far. “Guadalajara has been great and there has been nothing not to like about this experience.”
Two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) has earned gold in saber at every level, from World Cups to World Championships, but Tuesday marked the first time Zagunis has claimed a Pan American Games title.
The first-time Pan Am Games team member won her quarter-final bout against Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.), 15-4, to advance to the evening semifinals where she won her bout against Yaritza Goulet (CUB), 15-7.
In the gold medal final, Zagunis earned a close win over two-time Olympian Alejandra Benitez (VEN), 15-13.
“I’m a competitive person, so I’m here to have fun, but, at the same time, I came here to win too,” said Zagunis whose gold medal-winning performance at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games made her the first U.S. Olympic fencer to win gold in 100 years. “I love having this mini-Olympics experience, particularly being with the other athletes and living in the athlete’s village.”
The success of Massialas and Zagunis was preceded by the gold medal-winning performances of teammates Seth Kelsey (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) in Monday’s (men’s individual epee and women’s individual foil competition.
Competition continues on Wednesday in which 2007 Pan Am Games Champion Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and her sister, 2008 Olympian Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), will fence in the women’s epee event. Beijing Olympic silver medalists Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.) and James Williams (New York City, N.Y.) will compete in the saber event in which Williams won the silver medal at the 2007 Pan Am Games.
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