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Zagunis Conquers Brooklyn, Wins World Cup

06/19/2010, 9:58am CDT
By No Author

Three Other Americans Reach Quarterfinals in Saber

(NEW YORK, N.Y.) – World No. 1 Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) won the last FIE World Cup of the season in New York City Saturday night. The two-time reigning Olympic gold medalist defeated Reka Benko of Hungary, 15-13, in the women’s saber final at the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge.

“I’m happy to end the season on a win and I’m ready for a little bit of a break,” Zagunis said. “I think I fenced my best in the two final bouts. I had kind of a rocky start this morning with just the feeling, but I’m glad I was able to pull it out, get it done.”

Zagunis took down third-seed Sophia Velikaia of Russia 15-4 in the semifinals. The two-time Olympian defeated fellow American Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.), 15-8, in the quarterfinals. Muhammad took down seventh-seeded Irene Vecchi of Italy, 15-14, to reach the final eight.

“Ibti did great,” Zagunis said. “We actually just fenced each other in China a couple of weekends ago so we’re no stranger to fencing each other in competition. Also, she’s my teammate so I’m really proud of her and it solidifies her place on the team, so congratulations to her.”

In men’s sabre, 2008 Olympic silver medalist Tim Morehouse (Bronx, N.Y.) and 19-year-old Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) reached the quarterfinals, losing to eventual finalists Bolade Apithy of France and Aldo Montano of Italy, respectively. Morehouse defeated Nicolas Mayer of Canada, 15-11, to reach the final eight before losing to Apithy, 15-10. Homer reached his first World Cup quarterfinal thanks to a 15-12 win over Zsolt Nemcsik of Hungary. His run ended in a 15-7 loss to NYC World Cup Champion Montano.

“I know that [Daryl] Homer and I both really wanted to defend our house, New York City, that’s where we’re from,” Morehouse said. “So we’re very proud of our result, top eight, but we really want to do a little bit better. But we’re happy overall with the way we fenced. I think most importantly, all of our kids are here watching us and I think it was really important to show them. They’re looking at us as their role models, like ‘how good can I be?’ And us showing them we can beat fencers from all over the world and so can they.”

Homer, originally from the Virgin Islands, lost twice in pool play before refocusing on Saturday. His strong finish puts him squarely in contention for World Championships in November.

“It’s definitely going to help my confidence a lot,” Homer said. “I didn’t fence very well yesterday in the pools and I went home and relaxed and really tried to make sure that I’d be ready for today and it showed a lot today.”

He credits 2008 Olympic silver medalist Keeth Smart (Brooklyn, N.Y.) for his turnaround Friday night.

“Basically, I wanted Daryl to know that he’s just as good as all the other competitors here and to fence with confidence and conviction and to have fun,” said Smart, who also commentated during the final two rounds Saturday night. “When you’re at a tournament like this, I’ve fenced in many of them, its important to have fun and relax out there.”

Eight Americans advanced into the women's foil final table of 64 to be completed Sunday. The eight U.S. fencers will be joined by world No. 20 Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Ambika Singh (Skillman, N.J.), who automatically qualified for the final table of 64 as the 13th and 14th seeds in the tournament, respectively. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.), who turned 16 on Tuesday, won all six pool matches and received a bye past the table of 128 into tomorrow's final 64 as the 18th seed.

Morehouse relished the chance of competing at home and he indicated it played a part in the performances of American fencers today.

“Most of our tournaments are in Europe, so usually we’re flying ten hours and we’re jeg lagged and we’re fencing and we’re totally by ourselves, sometimes without a coach,” Morehouse said. “So when you’re here and you have the home crowd and your family and you’re sleeping in your own bed or not making a long trip, it just gives you that extra boost to have a good result.”

The World Cup marks the first international competition in New York City since 2004. The fencers will look to reach their peak in Brooklyn as it is one of the last international events before the World Championships in Paris, Nov. 4-13.

Many of the competitors will be available to the media for interviews and photographs.

Tag(s): News  Mariel Zagunis