Mariel Zagunis, a two-time Olympic champion who will compete at her fourth Olympic Games in August, continued to demonstrate that she is on podium pace for Rio with a silver medal in women’s saber Sunday at the grand prix event in Moscow.
Zagunis, who is No. 5 in the latest world rankings, opened with a 15-10 victory over Russia’s Olga Nikitina in the round of 64, followed by consecutive wins over Polish fencers Malgorzata Kozaczuk (15-5) and world No. 12 Aleksandra Socha (15-11) before defeating Alina Komashchuk of Ukraine 15-7 to earn her semifinal slot. There she faced Italy’s Irene Vecchi, currently No. 20 in the world, and came back from a 12-8 deficit to advance to the final with a 15-13 victory.
That led to a gold-medal showdown against the Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan, ranked No. 3 in the world and a 13-time world championship medalist. Despite a game effort, Zagunis fell to the higher-ranked Ukrainian 15-13, the second time Kharlan defeated Zagunis by that margin in as many outings after the same result in the semifinal round of the world cup in Foshan, China, two weeks ago.
Zagunis now have four international medals this season, adding the grand prix silver to world cup golds won in Caracas, Venezuela, and Athens, Greece, as well as the bronze in Foshan.
The Olympic champion in Athens and Beijing, where she also won bronze in the team event, Zagunis is focused on improving on her fourth-place finish in London, where she carried the flag for Team USA in the Opening Ceremony. Her win in Athens was the first U.S. Olympic gold in fencing in 100 years.