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U.S. Women’s Sabre Team Claims Olympic Bronze Medal

Aug. 14, 2008, 2:52 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING, China -- After a heartbreaking loss in the semifinals earlier in the day, the U.S. women's sabre team of Becca Ward (Portland, Ore.), Mariel Zagunis (Portland, Ore.) and Sada Jacobson (Atlanta, Ga.) regrouped and won the Olympic bronze medal Thursday night at the Beijing Fencing Hall with a 45-38 triumph over France.

The turning point for the American squad came midway through the bronze-medal match when Ward turned a 20-17 deficit into a 25-22 advantage, and the U.S. never looked back.

"We feed off each other so much," said Ward. "It's key for us to be in a good mindset. Not to make excuses, but I was feeling under the weather for the semifinals, so I went back to the (Athletes') Village to sleep. We had a five-hour break to reset and know what we were fighting for."

After opening the day with a 45-8 trouncing of South Africa, the top-seeded American team had trouble finding their rhythm in the semifinals, losing to the eventual gold medal-winning Ukrainian squad, 45-39.

"It's just about perseverance," Jacobson said. "You have to put the loss behind you and look at the next match. But after we lost, I just felt exhausted and depressed."

"The last bout - I wish I could have fenced like that all day," said Zagunis.

The bronze medal was the fourth won by the U.S. team at the Beijing Games following the women's sabre sweep of the individual competition on Aug. 9, when Zagunis won gold, Jacobson took the silver and Ward claimed the bronze.

The U.S. fencing team will be back in action on Saturday at the Fencing Hall when the women's foil team event.