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Zagunis Wins Sixth International Medal in Tianjin

05/27/2013, 7:30pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Mariel Zagunis (far left) receives her silver medal and prize money in Tianjin. Photo Credit: Serge Timacheff / FIE /

Mariel Zagunis scores the final touch in her quarter-final shutout of Dina Galiakbarova (RUS). Photo credit: Serge Timacheff / FIE /

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) won her sixth international medal of the season at the Tianjin Grand Prix in China on Sunday.

Zagunis’s silver medal brings her tally to six individual podium finishes for the season – more than any other women’s saber fencer on the senior international circuit.

But that wasn’t what had the crowd buzzing in China.

Rather, it was a quarter-final win that might go down in history as one of the greatest defeats on the World Cup circuit.

Zagunis won her opening bout in the table of 64 with a 15-14 victory over Jaeyeun You (KOR) and defeated Elizaveta Kiryanova (RUS) and Huixian Liang (CHN) by 15-9 and 15-6 scores, respectively.

In the quarter-finals, Zagunis faced Dina Galiakbarova (RUS) for the fourth time this season.

While all of their past bouts have been close, the Russian won two of the first three, including a 15-12 victory over Zagunis in the quarter-finals of the Absolute Fencing Gear® Korfanty World Cup in Chicago three weeks ago.

Zagunis got into a rhythm quickly and couldn’t be broken as she racked up 15 straight touches to defeat the three-time Senior World Team Champion, 15-0.

In the semifinals, Zagunis won her second bout of the season over Jiyeon Kim (KOR), 15-13.

Although Zagunis had won all of their last seven bouts, two-time Senior World Team Champion Ekaterina Dyachenko (RUS) took the gold with a 15-11 win in the final bout.

At the start of the event, Zagunis, Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) and Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) had already secured their positions on the 2013 Senior World Team, but one spot remained and three fencers were in contention for the slot.

Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) was ranked fourth in the National Team Point Standings at the start of the tournament, but 2013 Junior World Team Champion Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) could pass Stone with a top 16 result – a feat the 17-year-old accomplished in Chicago three weeks ago.

Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.), a 2009 Senior World Team member, also remained in contention, but would need to win gold to have a chance at qualification.

While Stone and Aksamit both advanced out of the pools and preliminary tables on Saturday, Palmedo’s dreams of qualifying as Team USA’s youngest member were dashed when she was eliminated after a 1-4 result in the pools.

In the table of 64, Stone upset fifth-seeded Aleksandra Socha (POL), 15-11, and Aksamit defeated Xin Zhang (CHN), 15-9.

Aksamit drew Galiakbarova in the table of 32, but lost the bout, 15-14, and finished 29th overall.

Stone would claim her first Senior World Team berth and a 16th place finish after she defeated Sabina Mikina (AZE), 15-5, in the 32 and lost to Jisu Yoon (KOR), 15-13, in the table of 16.

Wozniak, Muhammad and Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.) both finished in the top 32 as well.

Wozniak defeated Sin Ying (CHN), 15-5, in the table of 64, but lost to Yana Egorian (RUS), 15-11, in the 32 to finish 18th overall.

After a 15-8 victory over Pui Yin Wan (HKG), Muhammad was given two red cards for false starts during her table of 32 bout against Lucrezia Sinigaglia (ITA). The two cards gave the Italian two points that would be crucial as she won the bout, 15-14.

While Muhammad ended the day in 20th place, Schneider finished one position back in 21st.

Fencing Sevinj Bunyatova (AZE) for the second time in three weeks, Schneider won their latest bout again by a score of 15-12. In the table of 32, Schneider led her bout against Azza Besbes (TUN), 8-4, at the break, but Besbes came back to win the bout, 15-12.

Click here to view complete results.

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

Tianjin Saber Grand Prix
1. Ekaterina Dyachenko (RUS)
2. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
3. Charlotte Lembach (FRA)
3. Jiyeon Kim (KOR)
5. Dina Galiakbarova (RUS)
6. Rajin Lee (KOR)
7. Jisu Yoon (KOR)
8. Azza Besbes (TUN)

18. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
20. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
21. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
29. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
80. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
86. Sophie Keehan (Chandler, Ariz.)

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