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Six USA Fencing Team Members Named to the FIE Hall of Fame

01/29/2013, 6:30pm CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Top (L-R): Beijing Olympic medalists Sada Jacobson, Mariel Zagunis & Becca Ward. Photo Credit: Serge Timacheff. Bottom (L-R): Peter Westbrook, 1984 Olympic medalist; Miguel de Capriles, two-time Olympic medalist; and Ed Korfanty, three-time Olympic coach.

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – USA Fencing is pleased to announce that six of Team USA’s top fencing athletes and coaches have been named to the Hall of Fame of the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime (FIE) – the sport’s international governing body.

In honor of the FIE’s centennial anniversary this year, the organization created a hall of fame to celebrate the heroes of fencing around the world and pay tribute to them for their exceptional performances and contribution to the sport of fencing since the organization’s founding in 1913.

Each national federation had the opportunity to submit a maximum of 10 candidates for inclusion in the Hall of Fame and the FIE selected 100 to be honored.

“We are very honored that six of our greatest fencers and coaches were selected for the FIE Hall of Fame. It is one more reflection of the role USA Fencing has played in the International Fencing Community,” said USA Fencing President Donald K. Anthony Jr. (Columbus, Ohio)

U.S. representatives in the Hall of Fame are as follows: 

  • Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.), two-time Olympic Champion (2004 and 2008), 2008 Olympic team bronze medalist and four-time Senior World Champion (individual in 2009 and 2010, team in 2000 and 2005) in saber
  • Rebecca Ward (Beaverton, Ore. / Durham, N.C.), two-time Olympic bronze medalist (individual and team) in 2008 and two-time Senior World Champion (individual in 2006 and team in 2005) in saber
  • Sada Jacobson (Atlanta, Ga.), three-time Olympic medalist (individual silver and team bronze in 2008 and individual bronze in 2004) and two-time Senior World Team Champion (2000 and 2005) in saber
  • Peter Westbrook (New York City, N.Y.), 1984 Olympic bronze medalist in saber and the first African-American ever to earn an Olympic fencing medal
  • Miguel de Capriles (San Francisco, Calif. / Deceased 1981), Olympic bronze medalist in 1932 (team epee) and 1948 (team saber) and FIE President from 1961-1964
  • Ed Korfanty (Portland, Ore.), three-time U.S. Olympic Team Coach for women’s saber who led Team USA to six Olympic medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games

Click here to view complete bios on all 100 members of the FIE Hall of Fame. 

Full bios on the U.S. inductees are as follows:

Miguel de Capriles

De Capriles represented the U.S. Olympic Team at three Olympic Games between 1932 and 1948. A fencer of all three weapons, de Capriles won bronze twice – first as a member of the U.S. Epee Team at the 1932 Games and again in team saber at the 1948 Games. Even during his athletic career, di Capriles worked to promote the sport of fencing as he cofounded Riposte magazine in 1935 and later served as a contributing editor for American Fencing magazine in 1949.

After competing in the London Games in 1948, De Capriles was elected as the president of the Amateur Fencing League of America (the predecessor to USA Fencing) for a term he held until 1952.

In 1960, de Capriles was elected to a four-year term as the first non-European president of the FIE.


Sada Jacobson

Jacobson was one of the pioneers of women’s saber fencing both in the United States and the world. As the top-ranked athlete in the world at the conclusion of both the 2002 and 2003 Senior World Cup seasons, Jacobson came to the 2004 Olympic Games as one of the favorites to earn one of the first three Olympic medals awarded in women’s saber. A two-time Senior World medalist in the team events, Jacobson finally made her Olympic dreams come true in Athens where she earned the bronze.

Jacobson would return to the podium in 2005 when she won her second Senior World Team Championship title with teammates Mariel Zagunis, Becca Ward and Caitlin Thompson.

In 2006, Jacobson was part of Team USA’s first Senior World podium1-2-3 finish where she won bronze.

Two years later, Jacobson became part of history again when she won her second Olympic medal – a silver – as part of the U.S. Women’s Saber Team’s sweep of the podium.

Jacobson ended her competitive career with a bronze medal in the team event in Beijing – her third Olympic medal finish – and now helps promote the sport to aspiring Olympians throughout the United States. 


Ed Korfanty

Born and raised in Poland, Korfanty didn’t begin fencing until age 16, but soon went on to fence as a member of Poland’s Junior and Senior National Teams. Korfanty immigrated to the United States in 1990 to coach at the prestigious University of Notre Dame and went on to become the U.S. Women’s Saber Team Head Coach.

Under Korfanty’s tutelage, the U.S. women became a powerhouse in international saber, winning two Senior World Championship titles (2000 and 2005) and four additional medals in the team events. Overall, Korfanty’s athletes have won more than 40 medals at the Junior, Senior and Cadet World Championships over the course of a decade.
As the Head Coach of the U.S. Women’s Saber Team at the 2004 Olympic Games, Korfanty led Team USA to history as Mariel Zagunis won the first ever women’s saber title at the Games and Sada Jacobson earned the bronze. Korfanty coached the U.S. women to a 1-2-3 finish at the 2006 Senior World Championships where Becca Ward won gold, Zagunis earned the silver medal and Jacobson took the bronze.
Korfanty was at the helm again in 2008 when Zagunis, Jacobson and Ward swept the podium at the Beijing Olympic Games – a first for an American fencing team – and when the U.S. women earned a bronze medal just days later.
Most recently, Korfanty coached the ladies to back-to-back bronze medal finishes in the team event at the 2011 Senior World Championships and 2012 Senior World Team Championships.
Korfanty demonstrated that he is a feared athlete in his own right when he earned gold medals in 2002 and 2003 at the Veteran World Championships and a bronze in 2004.
In May, he was presented with the Knight’s Cross by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. 


Rebecca Ward

In 2005, Ward won her first Senior World Championship title as a member of the U.S. Women’s Saber Team, but it was the following year when the 16-year-old made history as the first fencer ever to win three individual World Championships – Junior, Senior and Cadet – during the same year.

As the youngest woman ever to compete on a U.S. Olympic Fencing Team, Ward made her mark again at the 2008 Games in Beijing just weeks after her 18th birthday when she won two bronze medals – first as part of Team USA’s historic sweep of the individual podium and then again in the team event.

Ward ended the 2007-2008 season as the Overall Senior World Cup Champion.


Peter Westbrook

Westbrook broke barriers in 1984 when he won bronze at the London Olympic Games in men’s individual saber as the first African-American ever to earn an Olympic fencing medal.

With berths on six U.S. Olympic Teams to his credit, Westbrook’s storied athletic career includes carrying the U.S. flag during the Opening Ceremony of the 1992 Olympic Games at age 40 and earning three Pan American titles and 13 U.S. National Championship gold medals.

But it’s Westbrook’s work since retiring from competition that continues to impact thousands of children to this day. Westbrook chose to reach out to inner-city youth in New York City through the creation of the Peter Westbrook Foundation – a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping kids off the streets and improving their academic and athletic lives through the sport of fencing.

Through his foundation, Westbrook has helped athletes at all levels – from grassroots through the development of Olympic fencers. Westbrook’s program has produced six U.S. Olympic Team members, including 2008 Olympic silver medalists Keeth and Erinn Smart. 

Mariel Zagunis

Zagunis made Olympic history in 2004 when she became the first Olympic Champion in women’s saber and the first U.S. fencer to win gold at the Games in 100 years. She successfully defended her title in 2008 as the head of a U.S. sweep of the women’s saber podium in Beijing. Zagunis led Team USA to two Senior World Championship titles in 2000 and 2005 as well as four additional medals and the bronze at the 2008 Olympic Games.

A dominant figure in the sport of women’s saber, she won back-to-back Senior World Championship titles in 2009 and 2010 and has ended the last four seasons as the FIE Senior World Cup Champion. In addition to her four Senior World titles, Zagunis has earned two individual and three team medals at the Senior World Championships.

At the junior level, Zagunis was honored as the FIE Junior World Cup Champion for the three straight seasons (2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004), during which time she won four Junior World Championship titles.

In 2009, Zagunis was honored by the FIE with the Chevelier Feyerick Trophy for sportsmanship and fair play and she continues to give back to the American fencing community through her foundation – the Mariel Zagunis Women’s Saber Fund. 

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