Mariel Zagunis (second from right) on the podium after winning bronze in Foshan. Photo Credit: Jeremy Summers
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Fencing against many of the rivals she will face at the Rio Olympic Games, two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) earned a bronze medal on Saturday at the Foshan Saber World Cup in China.
The win marks Zagunis’s third individual medal in a season that has included five World Cups.
Seeded second in the table of 64, Zagunis was exempt from the pool rounds and opened with a pair of strong wins against Ying Fu (CHN) and Norika Tamura (JPN) by 15-9 and 15-8 scores, respectively.
Zagunis defeated Jiyeon Seo (KOR), 15-13, to advance to the quarter-finals where she bested 2015 Senior World bronze medalist Anna Marton (HUN), 15-12.
Zagunis’s sole loss of the day came in the semifinals to two-time individual Senior World Champion Olga Kharlan (UKR) who won the bout, 15-13, and went on to take gold.
Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.), who recently qualified with Zagunis to compete in Rio, finished 11th in Foshan.
Exempt from pools, Muhammad won her first two bouts by 15-10 scores against 2014 Senior World team silver medalist Saussen Boudiaf (FRA) and Evgenia Karbolina (RUS).
Muhammad nearly had a showdown with Zagunis in the quarters, but lost her table of 16 bout to Marton, 15-12.
Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.), who will represent Team USA as a replacement athlete in Rio, finished 6-0 in the pool rounds on Friday to take the 21st seed in the table of 64.
Aksamit defeated 2008 Olympic Team Champion Olga Zhovnir (UKR), in the 64 by a score of 15-8, but lost her next bout to six-time Senior World medalist Ekaterina Dyachenko (RUS), 15-13.
Dyachenko also fenced 2016 National Champion Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.) in the previous round, winning the bout, 15-4, over Thompson who went 3-3 in pools and defeated Heyddys Valentin (DOM), 15-9, in the preliminary table of 64.
Five-time Junior World medalist Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) rebounded from a 2-4 pool result to qualify for the second day of competition with a 15-8 victory over Svetlana Kormiltsyna (RUS).
Palmedo drew 2012 Olympic Champion Jiyeon Kim (KOR) in the table of 64 on Saturday and lost the bout, 15-9, to Kim who later won the silver medal.
Two-time Junior World team medalist Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.) also finished 2-4 in pools. Russo defeated Korean Rajin Lee, 15-11, in the preliminary table of 64 on Friday before dropping her first bout on Saturday to four-time Senior World medalist Cecilia Berder (FRA), 15-5.
On Sunday, Zagunis, Muhammad, Aksamit and Palmedo fenced in the team competition.
The Americans dominated their first two matches, defeating the Dominican Republic, 45-14, in the table of 16 and Korea, 45-26, in the quarters.
Team USA lost to top-ranked Russia, 45-37, in the semis and missed out on bronze with a 45-42 loss to Poland.
Click here to view complete individual results.
Click here to view complete team results.
Foshan Women’s Individual Saber World Cup
1. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
2. Jiyeon Kim (KOR)
3. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
3. Jiarui Qian (CHN)
5. Cecilia Berder (FRA)
6. Anna Marton (HUN)
7. Irene Vecchi (ITA)
8. Katarzyna Kedziora (POL)
11. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
21. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
54. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
60. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
61. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)
Foshan Women’s Team Saber World Cup