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Ibtihaj Muhammad Wins Bronze at Orleans World Cup

11/03/2015, 9:30am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Ibtihaj Muhammad (far right) on the podium in Orleans.

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – A 2014 Senior World Team Champion, Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) came one step closer to qualifying for the Rio Olympic Games on Saturday when she won bronze at the Orleans World Cup in France.

Ranked No. 11 in the world, Muhammad retains her No. 3 position in the United States in the newly released U.S. Women’s Saber National Team Point Standings as she aims to be one of three athletes eligible to compete in the individual event in Rio with four qualifying for the team competition.

Seeded 12th, Muhammad was exempt from the pool rounds on Friday and fenced Sevil Bunyatova (AZE) in the 64. Up by 8-4 at the break, Muhammad held her four-touch lead to defeat Bunyatova, 15-11.

In the table of 32, Jiarui Qian (CHN) held an 8-7 lead after the first period, but Muhammad tied the bout at 11 and ended with a three-touch run for a 15-13 victory.

Muhammad fenced four-time Senior World medalist Ceciila Berder (FRA) to qualify for the quarter-finals. Muhammad led by a single touch at the break, 8-7, but outscored Berder, 7-2, in the second to win the bout, 15-13.

Fencing Loreta Gulotta (ITA) in the evening quarter-finals, Muhammad trailed by three touches at 4-1 early in the bout, but closed the gap to a one-touch deficit at 8-7 by the break. Muhammad scored first in the second to tie the bout at eight and finished with three straight to win the bout, 15-12, and secure her second individual medal of the year after winning silver at the Seoul Grand Prix in March.

In the semifinals, three-time Senior World medalist Yana Egorian (RUS) opened with four straight touches and held an 8-4 lead at the break. Muhammad scored three more in the second, but lost the bout, 15-7, to Egorian who would go on to upset two-time individual Senior World Champion Olga Kharlan (UKR), 15-8, to win gold.

London Olympian Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.), the No. 2 fencer in the nation, advanced to the quarter-finals for the first time since winning gold at the Pan Am Games in July.

Wozniak was seeded seventh in the world and defeated 2014 Senior World team silver medalist Manon Brunet (FRA), 15-11, in her opening bout.

In the table of 32, Wozniak edged two-time Senior World medalist Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.), 15-14, to advance to the table of 16 where she gave up just five touches in each period to defeat Sabina Mikina (AZE), 15-10.

Wozniak kept her quarter-final bout against Kharlan close and trailed by just three at the break, but Kharlan outscored the American, 7-2, in the second to win the bout, 15-7.

Two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) began the day with a 15-11 win against Martina Criscio (ITA) in the table of 64, but was challenged by Rajin Lee (KOR) early in the table of 32 as the Korean went on an 8-2 lead in the first period. Zagunis outscored Lee, 9-3, to tie the bout at 11 in the second, but the Korean ended the bout, 15-13, to defeat the No. 3 fencer in the world.

Three-time Senior World medalist Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) and four-time Junior World medalist Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) continued their battle for what could be a fourth position on the 2016 Olympic Team as Stone is ranked fourth in the nation and Palmedo sits in fifth.

Both athletes advanced to the table of 64 after the pool and preliminary tables on Friday, but each lost in the 64 with Stone falling to Lee, 15-13, and Palmedo losing her bout against Malgorzata Kozaczuk (POL), 15-10.

On Sunday, the Americans entered the team event where Zagunis did not fence due to injury and Wozniak, Muhammad, Stone and Palmedo took the strip as the No. 3 team in the world.

The Americans earned a bye into the table of 16 where they defeated the Dominican Republic, 45-36. Team USA’s run at a medal ended in the quarters, however, with a 45-40 loss to Italy.

After a 45-38 loss to China, Team USA ended the day with a 45-39 win against Poland and a seventh place overall result.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:

Orleans Women’s Saber Individual World Cup
1. Yana Egorian (RUS)
2. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
3. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
3. Jisu Yoon (KOR)
5. Sofya Velikaya (RUS)
6. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
7. Aleksandra Socha (POL)
8. Loreta Gulotta (ITA)

17. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
29. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
41. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
48. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
73. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
82. Faizah Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
85. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
115. Celina Merza (Wayne, N.J.)
119. Sarah Merza (Wayne, N.J.)
159. Violet Michel (Cambridge, Mass.)

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


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