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Mariel Zagunis Places Fifth at London Saber World Cup

01/27/2013, 7:30pm CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Mariel Zagunis. Photo Credit: U.S. Olympic Committee

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – For the fourth straight time, Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) began a new World Cup season as the top-ranked fencer in the world.

Following a season that included seven podium results on the World Cup circuit, Zagunis fell just one position shy of earning another medal with a fifth-place result at the London Saber World Cup on Saturday.

Seeded first in the tournament, Zagunis and teammates Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) and Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) each were exempt from the pools and advanced directly to the table of 64.

Zagunis won her opening bout against Mathilda Taharo (FRA), 15-6, and edged Taharo’s French teammate, Saoussen Boudiaf, 15-13, in the table of 32.

In the table of 16, Zagunis defeated 2007 Senior World medalist Bogna Jozwiak (POL), 15-13.

Zagunis lost her quarter-final bout against 2003 Senior World medalist Aleksandra Socha (POL), 15-9, to finish fifth.

Wozniak, Muhammad and Muhammad’s younger sister, Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) all placed in the top 16.

Wozniak, who finished sixth at the London Games, battled through an illness, but won her bouts over Lucia Martin-Portugues (ESP) and Sibylle Klemm (GER), by scores of 15-7 and 15-10, respectively.

In her next bout, Wozniak lost to 2011 Junior World Champion Dina Galiakbarova (RUS), 15-13, and finished in ninth place.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, who is seeking to become the first U.S. athlete to wear a hijab at the Olympic Games, just missed qualifying for London, but spent much of the last year becoming an activist for women’s sports, including an appointment last summer to the U.S. Department of State’s Concil to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports.

Fencing for the second time in competition since last June, Ibtihaj defeated Palina Kaspiarovich (BLR), 15-9, in the table of 64 and Sandra Marcos (ESP), 15-10, in the table of 32.

Ibtihaj dropped her next bout, 15-4, to 2009 Junior World medalist Irene Vecchi (ITA), who went on to win gold while Ibtihaj finished 11th.

A 2011 World University Games Team member, Faizah Muhammad’s 16th place finish marked her best career result at a Senior World Cup.

After a 4-2 finish in the pools on Friday, Faizah won her bout in the preliminary table of 64 over Mihaela Bulica (ROU), 15-12.

On Saturday, Faizah defeated Huixian Liang (CHN), 15-11, in the table of 64. After defeating Marion Stoltz (FRA), 15-13, in the table of 32, Faizah lost her final bout to Olena Voronina (UKR), 15-12.

Sixteen-year-old Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) became the first. U.S. women’s cadet saber fencer to place in the top 32 at a European Senior World Cup since 2009.

The 2012 Cadet World Team member went 4-2 in the pools and defeated 2008 Olympic Team Champion Galyna Pundyk (UKR), 15-14, on Friday to advance to the table of 64.

Palmedo defeated two-time Junior World medalist Alexandra Bujdoso (GER), 15-14, and placed 32nd overall after a 15-14 loss to Fei Li (CHN). In the previous round, Li defeated Princeton senior Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.), 15-12, who placed 50th at her first European Senior World Cup tournament.

Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.), who won back-to-back bronze medals at the 2011 and 2012 Senior World Team Championships with Zagunis, Wozniak and Ibtihaj Muhammad, placed 40th.

Schneider posted a 5-1 result in the pools on Friday and advanced directly to the table of 64 as a 32nd seed where she lost her first bout on Saturday to Sevil Bunyatova (AZE), 15-12.

Adrienne Jarocki (Middle Village, N.Y.), the top-ranked junior women’s saber fencer in the United States, finished 4-1 in the pools and defeated cadet fencer Lena Johnson (Peachtree, Ga.), 15-10, in the preliminary table of 64.

In the table of 64, Jarocki lost her bout to 2011 Junior World medalist Anna Marton (HUN), 15-14, and finished in 42nd place.

Zagunis, Wozniak, Ibtihaj Muhammad and 2012 Cadet World medalist Skyla Powers (Decatur, Ga.) will fence in the team competition on Sunday.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows, including athletes who placed outside the top 64 on Friday:

London Saber Individual World Cup
1. Irene Vecchi (ITA)
2. Ekaterina Dyachenko (RUS)
3. Aleksandra Socha (POL)
3. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
5. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
6. Gioia Marzocca (ITA)
7. Olena Voronina (UKR)
8. Dina Galiakbarova (RUS)

9. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
11. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
16. Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
32. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
40. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
42. Adrienne Jarocki (Middle Village, N.Y.)
50. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
72. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)
89. Skyla Powers (Decatur, Ga.)
94. Lena Johnson (Peachtree City, Ga.)
119. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)

Tag(s): News  Ibtihaj Muhammad  Mariel Zagunis