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Mariel Zagunis Going for the Gold

June 08, 2012, 4:53 p.m. (ET)

Featured athlete bio: Mariel Zagunis

Event: Saber 
Height:  5'8"
Birthplace:  Portland, Ore.
Coach: Ed Korfanty
Web Sitewww.marielzagunis.com 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MarielZagunis


  • 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2005 FIE Senior World Cup Champion
  • 2004, 2003 and 2002 FIE Junior World Cup Champion

Olympic Teams: 2012, 2008 (Individual - Gold, Team - Bronze), 2004 (Individual - Gold)
Senior World Championship Teams: 2012 (Team - Bronze), 2011 (Individual - Silver, Team - Bronze), 2010 (Individual - Gold), 2009 (Individual - Gold), 2007, 2006 (Individual and Team Silver), 2005 (Team - Gold), 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 (Team - Gold)
Junior World Championship Teams2005 (Individual and Team Gold), 2004 (Team - Gold, Individual Silver), 2003, 2002 (Team - Silver), 2001 (Individual and Team Gold), 2000 (Team - Silver)
Cadet World Championship Teams2002, 2001 (Gold)

Personal: Mariel Leigh Zagunis won two medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. She took home her second straight gold medal in the Individual Sabre event and helped lead the women's team to a bronze medal in the Team Sabre event....Zagunis made history at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece becoming the first U.S. fencer in 100 years to win an Olympic gold medal...She is also in the history books as the first Olympic gold medalist for women's saber, which made its Olympic debut at the 2004 Olympic Games ...Her Olympic accomplishment was all the more impressive when you consider that she was originally a replacement athlete for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team...Mariel is the daughter of Robert and Cathy Zagunis who were both members of the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team for Rowing and competed at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Quebec, Canada...Mariel has two brothers, Marten and Merrick ...Both of her brothers fence...Marten was on the Penn State University fencing team...Merrick also played varsity tennis at Valley Catholic High School...Mariel graduated from Valley Catholic High School in Beaverton, Ore...She was a member of the school's varsity soccer team for three years (freshman through junior year)...She went on to attend the University of Notre Dame where she is majoring in Anthropology...She has put school on hold as she prepares for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China...She fenced on the varsity level for two seasons (2004-05 and 2005-06), winning the NCAA Individual Championship title in 2006 and the NCAA Team Championship title in 2005...When not fencing, Mariel enjoys playing and watching tennis, relaxing bike rides, playing soccer, writing letters to friends, Dance Dance Revolution, anything that has to do with the outdoors, including volunteering in environmental preservation activities...She listens to all types of music, though she admits that she is horrible with technology and hasn't charged her i-Pod in weeks...Her favorite movies include Tommy Boy, Finding Nemo, Moulin Rouge, Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura,and Labryinth...Her favorite television shows include, America's Funniest Home Videos, Dirty Jobs, Scrubs, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Soup...Mariel says that her parents are her role models as "they have been through so much (good and bad) in their lives and have dedicated so much to their children that has enabled us to achieve greatness on many different levels.  They have made me the person I am today and I never could have learned so much about life or how to work as hard as I do from any other two people.  Through them I have been able to grow and understand what is truly important in life and how to reach any goal I set for myself.  No matter how daunting a task may be, I know my family will always be there to support me and help me through it."...Prides herself on her ability to persevere...Youngest fencer to win a gold medal at a World Championships at age 15 in 2000...Only fencer to win four World Championship titles in one season...Member of first U.S. team to win a medal in the Team Event at a World Championships or Olympic Games...First U.S. fencer to have four World Championship gold medals...Secret/U.S. Women's Sports Foundation Oregon Athlete of the Year in 2002...USOC Female Athlete of the Month for April 2001...Appeared in Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd in May 7, 2001 issue.

Recent Competition History 


  • Gold - Orleans Grand Prix
  • Gold - Tianjin Grand Prix
  • Gold - Gent World Cup (Team)
  • Silver - Antalya World Cup (Team)
  • Silver - Bologna World Cup (Team)
  • Bronze - Gent World Cup (Individual)
  • Bronze - Bologna World Cup (Individual)
  • Bronze - Moscow World Cup (Individual)
  • Bronze - Antalya World Cup (Individual) 
  • Ninth - London World Cup


  • Gold - Orleans Grand Prix
  • Gold - Pan American Championships (Individual)
  • Gold - Pan American Championships (Team)
  • Gold - Pan American Games (Individual)
  • Gold - Pan American Games (Team)
  • Silver - Senior World Championships (Individual)
  • Silver - New York World Cup (Individual)
  • Silver - Moscow Grand Prix
  • Bronze - Senior World Championships (Team)
  • Bronze - New York World Cup (Team)
  • Bronze - London World Cup
  • Bronze - Istanbul World Cup (Team)
  • Fifth - Gent World Cup (Team)
  • Ninth - Bologna World Cup
  • Ninth - Istanbul World Cup (Individual)
  • 17th - Gent World Cup (Individual)


  • Gold - Senior World Championships (Individual)
  • Gold - Pan American Championships
  • Gold - New York World Cup
  • Gold - Tianjin Grand Prix
  • Gold - London World Cup
  • Silver - Tunisia Grand Prix
  • Silver - Moscow Grand Prix
  • Silver - Orleans Grand Prix
  • Bronze - Havana World Cup
  • Fourth - Senior World Championships (Team) 
  • Ninth - Lamezia Grand Prix


  • Gold - Senior World Championships (Individual)
  • Gold - Pan American Championships 
  • Gold - Dallas World Cup
  • Gold - Havana World Cup
  • Silver - Tianjin Grand Prix
  • Sixth - Senior World Championships (Team)
  • Gold - Olympic Games (Individual)
  • Bronze - Olympic Games (Team)  
  • Gold - NCAA Championships


  • Gold - Junior World Championships (Individual)
  • Gold - Junior World Championships (Team)
  • Gold - Senior World Championships (Team)
  • Silver - NCAA Championships  


  • Gold - Olympic Games
  • Gold - Junior World Championships (Team)
  • Seventh - Senior World Championships 
  • Seventh - Foggia Grand Prix
  • 11th - Tauberbischofsheim World Cup
  • 18th - Moscow Grand Prix
  • 19th - New York Grand Prix
  • 20th - Orleans Grand Prix
  • 22nd - Havana World Cup 
  • 40th - Budapest World Cup

  • Gold - Junior World Championships (Individual)
  • Gold - Junior World Championships (Team)  


  • Gold - Senior World Championships (Team)
Career Highlights

During the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Mariel won the first Olympic Gold Medal for an American fencer in 100 years.

Womens sabre fencing made its Olympic debut in Athens. Mariel made history as the first and so far only ­- womens sabre fencer to hold the Olympic title.

Mariel is the most decorated fencer in the history of USA Fencing.

In 2009, Mariel was the first American to be awarded the Chevelier Feyerick Trophy by the International Fencing Federation. The award is given to the person or organization that best represents sportsmanship and fair play as a role model for fencing's future.

In both 2004 and 2008, Mariel earned the Bill Hayward Award, Oregon's #1 Amateur Athlete of the Year.

In 2009, Mariel was named Oregon's #1 Womens Professional Athlete of the Year.

In 2010 Mariel was named Notre Dame's Athlete of the Decade.