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Zagunis Wins Gold, Stone Finishes Seventh at Gent Saber World Cup

02/24/2013, 11:00pm CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Mariel Zagunis and Coach Ed Korfanty. Photo Credit: Cathy Zagunis

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) earned her first World Cup gold medal of the season on Saturday at the Gent Saber World Cup in Belgium – a victory made even sweeter by a final win over eight-time World and two-time Olympic medalist Olga Kharlan (UKR).

Seeded second in the event and exempt from the preliminary rounds on Friday, Zagunis fenced close bouts in her first two direct elimination rounds where she edged Loreta Gulotta (ITA), 15-13, in the table of 64 and 2012 Junior World medalist Saoussen Boudiaf (FRA), 15-14, in the table of 32.

In the table of 16, Zagunis fenced Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) – Zagunis’s teammate on the 2011 and 2012 teams in which the U.S. squad won bronze at the Senior Worlds. Zagunis won the bout, 15-5, and Muhammad finished 13th – her second top-16 finish of the season.

Zagunis’s quarter-final opponent was Princeton senior Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) who is in the middle of her best senior season ever.

Stone, who made her debut on the European circuit in January with a 16th place finish at the Orleans Grand Prix, advanced through the pools and preliminary tables on Friday and into the table of 64 where she defeated 2008 Olympic Team Champion Galyna Pundyk (UKR), 15-13.

Stone won her bout over 2009 World Team medalist Xiaodong Chen (CHN), 15-12, in the table and advanced to the quarters after a 15-13 victory over 2005 World medalist Ilaria Bianco (ITA).

In the quarter-finals, it was Zagunis who prevailed, 15-10, and Stone placed seventh overall to move up to be the fifth-ranked American in the national standings.

Zagunis won her semifinal bout over three-time Senior World Team Champion Dina Galiakbarova (RUS), 15-14, for an opportunity to face Kharlan in the final bout.

The gold medal final would be a rematch of their bronze medal match in London in which Kharlan defeated Zagunis to win her first individual Olympic title.

Zagunis won the final bout against Kharlan, 15-13, to earn her first ever gold medal at the Gent World Cup – an event she has now medaled at for two of the last three seasons, including a bronze medal finish in 2012.

Three of Zagunis’s teammates advanced to the table of 32.

Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.), a sixth-place finisher at the London Games, placed 18th in Gent.

Like Zagunis and Muhammad, Wozniak was exempt from the pools and preliminary tables. She opened with a 15-14 victory over Marion Stoltz (FRA). In the table of 32, Wozniak lost her bout to Jisu Yoon (KOR), 15-7.

Fencing in her first World Cup in nearly two years, 2009 Senior World Team member Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.) advanced through the preliminary tables and into the table of 64 where she defeated Laura Reguigne (FRA), 15-11. Aksamit lost her next bout to Aleksandra Socha (POL), 15-12, to finish 23rd.

Sixteen-year-old Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) earned her third straight top-32 finish of the Senior World Cup season. Palmedo, whose finish solidified her positions on her second Junior and Cadet World Championship Teams, followed a successful day in the pools and preliminary tables of Friday with a 15-8 victory over 2010 Junior World medalist Anna Varhelyi (HUN) in the table of 64 on Saturday. Palmedo placed 28th after she lost her table of 32 bout to three-time Senior World medalist Gioia Marzocca (ITA), 15-12.

Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.), who won two Senior World Team Championship medals with Zagunis, Wozniak and Muhammad, entered the table of 64 as the 19th seed after finishing 6-0 in the pools on Friday. Schneider lost her opening bout on Saturday, however, to Sandra Marcos (ESP), 15-12, and finished 34th.

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

Gent Individual Saber World Cup
1. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)

2. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
3. Aleksandra Socha (POL)
3. Dina Galiakbarova (RUS)
5. Irene Vecchi (ITA)
6. Gioia Marzocca (ITA)
7. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
8. Bogna Jozwiak (POL)

13. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
18. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
23. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
28. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
34. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
71. Sophie Keehan (Chandler, Ariz.)
72. Claudia Kulmacz (Upper Saddle River, N.J.)
102. Emma Keehan (Chandler Ariz.)
108. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)


Tag(s): News  Ibtihaj Muhammad  Dagmara Wozniak  Mariel Zagunis  Eliza Stone  Sage Palmedo