TORONTO -- For both the men’s and women’s U.S. saber teams, it was a battle of the borders. On the women’s side, Team USA would take on its neighbor to the south, Mexico, and the men would face the host country and neighbor to the north, Canada, for the gold at the 2015 Pan American Games.
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Team USA’s Mariel Zagunis, Dagmara Wozniak and Ibtihaj Muhammad would walk away with the gold. Mexico finished in second and Venezuela won bronze.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. women defeated El Salvador and Cuba with convincing 45-25 and 45-33 wins.
2012 Olympian Wozniak also won gold in the individual competition on Monday.
Two-time Olympic champion Zagunis, who lost to Wozniak in the individual quarterfinals and missed the podium, was ready for redemption and her turn on the podium.
"I expected to win tonight,” Zagunis said. “I expect to win every competition that I compete in. It was a difficult individual result for me; it's not what I wanted. Coming here all the way from Moscow world championships, I was a little bit tired, a little bit sore and injured, so I did the best I could. The individual event leaves something to be desired, but I'm really happy with our performance today and that we could end on a winning note."
In the gold-medal final, Team USA only lost one round, 6-5, en route to its convincing 45-31 win.
Muhammad, Wozniak, and Zagunis each contributed 15 hits to the team’s 45.
Team USA picked up the pace early, taking a commanding 25-16 lead behind Zagunis’ leadership.
“We are happy to be here and happy to come home with a gold medal,” Muhammad said. “It’s pure elation.”
The U.S. fencing team, which is in the middle of its qualifying period for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, will announce the members of the Olympic team in April.
“It’s an exhilarating feeling,” Wozniak said of Thursday’s win. “And when we can bring gold home together and be ambassadors for our country, it’s an awesome feeling.”