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A Day In The Life Of An Olympic Champion At The Team USA Media Summit

03/09/2016, 7:45am CST
By Lisa Costantini /

Mariel Zagunis on set at the Media Summit. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

For those of us looking in from the outside, being an Olympian seems extremely glamorous — the travel, the free stuff, the notoriety. But when we have our faces firmly pressed on the glass what we don’t see is all the smudges and streaks in the form of jet lag, intense training schedules, missing friends and family — and that’s just a few of the sacrifices. But it is a trade-off every athlete is willing to make for the love of their sport and the honor of representing their country.

And for three-time Olympic fencing medalist Mariel Zagunis — who is ranked No. 3 in the world and has already punched her ticket to Rio — she wouldn’t have it any other way. Born into a family of Olympians — her parents were rowers who competed at the 1976 summer Games  — athletic genes played a big role in her career choice, but so did her older brother.

“Do you have a brother?” she asked. “Does he beat up on you?” So when he decided to take up the sport of sword fighting — despite no one else they knew doing it — she was forced to learn it too as a way of defending herself.

Now she’s competed in the sport for more than 20 years and the crazy lifestyle and hectic pace feels normal. In Los Angeles and able to find time to attend her first pre-Olympic Team USA Media Summit — despite having represented the U.S. in Athens, Beijing and London — the 31-year-old looked at the schedule detailing her quick 24 hours in the City of Angels, where every minute was accounted for, and declared it “not that bad.”

Within minutes of landing at the airport — where she flew to from her hometown and current residence of Portland, Oregon — she is whisked to The Beverly Hilton hotel where the welcome reception is already underway. But with a Sports Illustrated photo shoot scheduled right in the middle of it, she is forced to miss the beginning so that she could do her hair and makeup ... more>

Tag(s): News