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Mariel Zagunis Opens Saber Season with Bronze in Orleans

02/03/2014, 7:00pm CST
By Nicole Jomantas

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

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) kicked off the new senior international season with a bronze medal win at the Orleans Saber Grand Prix in France.

Zagunis, who earned medals at all three Grand Prix tournaments in 2013, was seeded second in Orleans and exchanged touches with Olena Kravatska (UKR) during the first half of their table of 64 bout where she took an 8-7 lead. During the second period, Zagunis opened with three straight touches and went on to win the bout, 15-11.

In the table of 32, Zagunis fenced Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.) – her teammate on the squads that won bronze at the 2011 and 2012 Senior World Championships. The bout would be the second against an American for Schneider who defeated teammate Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.), 15-8, in the table of 64. This time, the result was the same score, but it was Zagunis who earned the win, 15-8.

In the table of 16, Zagunis dominated Russian Anna Illarionova (RUS) for a 15-8 victory.

After the quarter-finalists were introduced to the crowd wearing super hero capes, Zagunis took the strip for the first bout of the evening finals against two-time Senior World Team medalist Cecilia Berder (FRA).

Berder came out with a 6-2 lead, but Zagunis scored four straight to tie the bout and held an 8-7 lead at the break. With Zagunis looking to close the bout out and a 14-10 lead, Berder made a late comeback, but Zagunis held on for a 15-13 victory.

In the semifinals, Zagunis met 2012 Olympic Champion Jiyeon Kim (KOR). Although Kim claimed an upset against Zagunis in the semis of the London Games, Zagunis won both of their match-ups on the 2013 World Cup circuit.

Kim came out attacking quickly and took a 5-1 lead. Although Zagunis came within two touches of the Korean at 11-9, Kim won the bout, 15-11, and Zagunis took home the bronze medal.

In addition to Schneider, four other U.S. athletes advanced to the table of 32.

London Olympian Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) trailed Margaux Gimalac (FRA), 8-7, at the break in the table of 64, but took an 11-9 lead in the second before going on to win the bout, 15-11. In the table of 32, Wozniak fenced 2007 Senior World medalist Bogna Jozwiak (POL). With Jozwiak up 8-6 in the first period, Wozniak took an 11-10 lead in the second, but was outscored in the final touches as Jozwiak earned the win, 15-12, and Wozniak finished 20th.

Three-time Senior World team medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) finished behind Wozniak with a 21st place result. After a 15-8 victory over Martyna Watora (POL), Muhammad was outtouched by Watora’s teammate, Malgorzata Kozaczuk, 15-14, in the table of 32.

Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.), a 2013 Senior World Team bronze medalist, trailed Sara Balzer (FRA), 12-10, in the table of 64, but Stone reeled off five straight touches to finish the bout, 15-12. In the table of 32, 2011 Junior World medalist Anna Marton (HUN) held an 11-5 lead when Stone fell and sustained an injury. Although Stone resumed the bout, Marton earned the win, 15-5, and Stone finished in 22nd place.

Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.), a reigning Junior World Team Champion, had a slow start in the table of 64 as 2005 Senior World medalist Ilaria Bianco (ITA) took a 5-1 lead early in the bout. Palmedo picked up five straight touches to regain control of the bout and secured an 8-7 lead by the end of the first period. In the second, Palmedo outscored the Italian, 7-6, to earn a 15-13 win. Palmedo narrowly missed a table of 16 matchup against Zagunis when placed 30th after a 15-12 loss to Illarionova in the table of 32.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows, including athletes who did not advance to the table of 64:

Orleans Saber Grand Prix
1. Olga Kharlan
2. Jiyeon Kim (KOR)
3. Ekaterina Dyachenko (RUS)
3. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
5. Bogna Jozwiak (POL)
6. Cecilia Berder (FRA)
7. Fei Li (CHN)
8. Malgorzata Kozaczuk (POL)

20. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
21. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
22. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
27. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
30. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
43. Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
110. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)

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