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Mariel Zagunis Wins Individual Bronze, Leads USA to Team Bronze in Beijing

05/04/2015, 6:00pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Nearly seven years after winning her second Olympic title in Beijing, Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) returned to the National Olympic Sports Center and again secured a pair of medals with bronzes in both the individual and team competitions at the first World Cup qualifier for the 2016 Olympic Games.

The No. 2-ranked fencer in the world, Zagunis cruised through her first two bouts of the day with wins against Hee Ra Lee (KOR) and Alina Komaschuk (UKR) by 15-5 and 15-6 scores, respectively.

After a 15-12 win against Olena Kravatska (UKR) in the table of 16, Zagunis controlled her quarter-final to defeat 2012 Olympic Champion Jiyeon Kim (KOR), 15-9.

Zagunis’s run was halted in the semifinals by Aleksandra Socha (POL) – the 2003 Senior World bronze medalist who took her second World Cup medal of the season after upsetting Zagunis, 15-2.

Zagunis’s London teammate, Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.), earned Team USA’s second highest finish with a 17th place result after a 15-12 win against Seonhee Kim (KOR) in the table of 64 and a 15-9 loss to 2014 Senior World team medalist Cecilia Berder (FRA).

Four U.S. team members fenced in the table of 64, but did not advance to the later rounds in the World Cup that also serves as the penultimate qualifying tournament for the 2015 Senior World Championships.

Exempt from the pools and preliminary rounds, Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) finished 34th after a 15-9 loss to 2014 Senior World team silver medalist Saoussen Boudiaf (FRA). Despite the loss, Muhammad remains No. 3 in the Senior National Team Point Standings behind Zagunis and Wozniak. With just the Moscow Grand Prix remaining before the 2015 Senior World Team is selected, Muhammad has enough points to secure a position on her sixth straight Senior World Championship Team where she will join Zagunis and Wozniak as Team USA attempts to defend its 2014 title.

The fourth position on the squad remains open as 2009 Senior World Team member Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.) and four-time Junior World medalist Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) attempt to challenge 2014 Senior World Team Champion Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) for her fourth position in the standings.

Aksamit finished 6-0 in the pools, but lost to Seona Hwang (KOR), 15-13, in the table of 64 on Saturday. She remains fifth in the standings while Palmedo is sixth after a 15-9 loss to Olena Voronina (UKR) in the preliminary table of 128 on Saturday.

A 2013 World University Games Team member, Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.), also went 6-0 in pools, but lost to Magdalena Pasternak (POL), 15-9, in the table of 64.

Two-time Senior World team medalist Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.) went 3-3 in the pools and was scheduled to fence five-time Senior World medalist Ilaria Bianco (ITA) in the preliminary table of 128, but Bianco withdrew from the bout and Schneider took the walkover and a 15-11 win against Alejandra Benitez (VEN) to qualify for the table of 64. Schneider kept her bout against Vassiliki Vougiouka (GRE) close, but missed advancing by two touches with a 15-13 loss.

On Sunday, Team USA returned for the team event where Wozniak sat out with an injury and Zagunis, Muhammad and Stone were joined by Aksamit.

After a 45-31 win against Hong Kong in the table of 16, Team USA defeated Korea, 45-26, in the quarters.

The semifinals would be a rematch of the squad’s semi against Ukraine from the 2014 Senior Worlds, but this time two-time reigning Senior World Champion Olga Kharlan and her team would prevail by a 45-27 margin.

In the bronze medal final, Muhammad came in as anchor for the first time in her international career and Team USA dispatched third-ranked Russia, the 2012 Senior World Team Champions, by a 45-32 score.

The bronze is the fifth World Cup podium finish of the season for Team USA who has medaled at every international event since the 2014 Senior Worlds.

The result not only allows the U.S. Women’s Saber Team to retain its World No. 1 ranking, but Team USA will enter the 2015 Senior Worlds as the top seed in the tournament.

Click here to view complete individual results.

Click here to view complete team results.

Beijing Women’s Saber Individual World Cup
1. Sofya Velikaya (RUS)
2. Aleksandra Socha (POL)
3. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
3. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
5. Jiyeon Kim (KOR)
6. Yana Egorian (RUS)
7. Yuliya Gavrilova (RUS)
8. Saoussen Boudiaf (FRA)

17. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
34. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
37. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
41. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
57. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
74. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
92. Sarah Merza (Wayne, N.J.)
102. Rachel Aho (Wellesley, Mass.)
120. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
154. Aziza Hassan (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
164. Celina Merza (Wayne, N.J.)

Beijing Women’s Saber Team World Cup
1. France
2. Ukraine
3. USA
4. Russia
5. Italy
6. Korea
7. Poland
8. Japan 

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