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Team USA's Top Sabre Fencers Look To Rio

12/17/2014, 7:00am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

U.S. Women's Saber Team fencers Ibtihaj Muhammad, Mariel Zagunis, Dagmara Wozniak and Eliza Stone were presented with the 2014 FIE Overall World Cup award by USA Fencing President Don Anthony. Photo Credit: Serge Timacheff /


NEW YORK — Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall, built in the Victorian era, has been the venue for everything from cotillion balls to hip-hop music awards. But the historic hall has rarely hosted an event as intense as the semifinal and final rounds of the Absolute Fencing Gear New York Sabre Grand Prix, which was held over the weekend and featured more than 300 of the sport’s top men and women from 45 countries.

USA Fencing’s poster athlete for the event, Mariel Zagunis, did not disappoint. The three-time Olympic medalist (2004 and 2008 individual gold; 2008 team bronze) won four preliminary match-ups to earn a semifinal berth against Russia’s Sofiya Velikaya, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist. 

In a gripping face-off, Zagunis fell four touches behind before drawing even at 13-13 in the second half, only to have Velikaya re-gain momentum and win 15-13. The Russian then lost the final to Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and two-time reigning senior world champion. Zagunis settled for bronze.

“There was a lot of back-and-forth; Sofiya and I have fenced each other many, many times,” Zagunis, 29, said. “I know how to beat her, so I’m just going to go home and watch the film and then come back and use what I’ve learned to have a better performance ..." more>

Tag(s): News  Daryl Homer  Jeff Spear  Dagmara Wozniak  Mariel Zagunis