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Zagunis Keeps World No. 1 Ranking

02/10/2010, 12:13pm CST
By No Author

Two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis Keeps World No. 1 Ranking with 2 Golds and 1 Silver

Two-time Olympic champion and 2009 World champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) kicked off the 2010 fencing season where she last left it - on top of the medal stand. In the first two international events for the U.S. Fencing team, Zagunis collected two golds and one silver medal to keep her No. 1 FIE World Ranking in women's sabre.

At the Orleans Grand Prix in France, Feb. 5-7, Zagunis lead the women's sabre team to the championship by outlasting France, 45-44, for the gold medal. In the first round, the U.S. narrowly defeated Romania, 45-44. In the quarterfinal round, Team USA rolled Italy 45-29 to advance to the semi-finals against No. 1 seed Ukraine. In the semis, the U.S. women out touched Ukraine 45-39 to advance to the much anticipated gold-medal match against host country France.

Competing with Zagunis and displaying new golden hardware was Daria Schneider (Berkley, Calif.), Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) and Emily Jacobson (Dunwoody, Ga.).

For the second consecutive international event, Zagunis breezed through the Orleans Grand Prix preliminaries by beating Hye Lim Kim (Korea), 15-7 in the first round. She then defeated two Ukrainians: Olena Voronina, 15-9; and Olga Zhovnir, 15-3, to advance into the quarter finals.

In the quarterfinals, Zagunis was challenged by France's Leonore Perrus, with Zagunis outlasting the home favorite 15-12. Up next in the semi-finals was Russia's Ekaterina Diatchenko, who was dropped 15-5.

For the gold medal, it was a rematch of the 2009 World Championships between Zagunis and Ukraine's Olga Kharlan. Unfortunately, Kharlan had the upper hand in defeating Zagunis, 15-13. This was Zagunis' first international loss since May 2009.

Wozniak finished 8th, the next highest finish for Team USA. Wozniak dropped a quarter-final bout to eventual champion Kharlan.

Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, NJ), Emma Baratta (New York), Schneider and Jacobson also competed at the Orleans Grand Prix.

The week before... Zagunis started off the 2010 season with a gold-medal performance at the England Cup in London on Jan. 30. The 24-year-old sabre star dominated the preliminaries by outscoring her opponents 45-17. In the quarter finals, she defeated her teammate Wozniak, 15-11, and then upended Min Zhu (China), 15-8. For the gold, Zagunis beat Poland's Aleksandra Socha, 15-7.

Wozniak, who lost to Zagunis in the quarterfinals, 15-11, finished sixth and was also joined by Muhammad, Baratta, Schneider, and Jacobson at the England Cup.agunis

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