LONDON – Two-time Olympic champion fencer Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) was today selected to lead the 529-member 2012 U.S. Olympic Team into Friday’s (July 27) Opening Ceremony as flag bearer, as announced today by the United States Olympic Committee. Zagunis was chosen by a vote of fellow members of Team USA.
“I’m extremely humbled by this incredible privilege,” said Zagunis. “As an athlete, I can’t imagine a higher honor than to lead Team USA into the Olympic Games, which are the pinnacle of sport and a platform for world peace. I am tremendously proud to represent my sport, our team and, most importantly, the United States of America.”
“I’d like to congratulate Mariel on this tremendous honor,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “It’s especially fitting in the year of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, when Team USA for the first time in history has more women than men, that Mariel receive the extraordinary honor that is carrying our nation’s flag into this celebration of humanity.”
Since becoming the first U.S. fencer to win gold at an Olympic Games in a hundred years with her podium finish in 2004, Zagunis has been virtually unstoppable. The top-ranked women’s saber fencer in the world, Zagunis won gold as a 19-year-old at the Athens Games in 2004, and went on to defend her title in Beijing before taking the individual world championship titles in 2009 and 2010. During the 2011 competition schedule, she added seven individual international medals, including silver at the world championships and gold at the Pan American Games. In 2012, she has added eight international medals.
Zagunis is the third fencing athlete to serve as flag bearer. Norman Armitage carried the flag in both 1952 and 1956, and Janice Lee Romary held the honor in 1968.
Zagunis will compete in the individual sabre competition on Aug. 1.
Zagunis will be available to the media during the USOC leadership press conference at the Main Press Center tomorrow (July 26) at 1 p.m.
U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM FLAG BEARERS
1908 Ralph Rose, Track & Field
1912 George V. Bonhag, Track & Field
1920 Patrick J. McDonald, Track & Field
1924 Patrick J. McDonald, Track & Field
1928 Lemuel (Bud) C. Houser, Track & Field
1932 F. Morgan Taylor, Track & Field
1936 Alfred A. Jochim, Gymnastics
1948 Ralph C. Craig, Yachting
1952 Norman C. Armitage, Fencing
1956 Norman C. Armitage, Fencing
Warren B. Wooford, Equestrian*
1960 Rafer L. Johnson, Track & Field
1964 William Parry O’Brien, Track & Field
1968 Janice Lee Romary, Fencing
1972 Olga Fikotova Connolly, Track & Field
1976 Gary W. Hall, Swimming
1980 U.S. did not attend
1984 Edward Burke, Track & Field
1988 Evelyn Ashford, Track & Field
1992 Francie Larrieu Smith, Track & Field
1996 Bruce Baumgartner, Wrestling
2000 Cliff Meidl, Canoe/Kayak
2004 Dawn Staley, Basketball
2008 Lopez Lomong, Track & Field
*Due to Australia’s immigration laws for horses, the 1956 equestrian events were held in Stockholm, Sweden.