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Back To Beijing, Day 1: Women's Saber Fencers Achieved Historic Olympic Sweep 10 Years Ago

By Chrös McDougall | Aug. 09, 2018, 12:01 a.m. (ET)

(L-R) Sada Jacobson, Mariel Zagunis and Becca Ward pose with their women's saber fencing medals from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 at the "TODAY" studio on Aug. 10, 2008 in Beijing.


From the thrilling Opening Ceremony to Michael Phelps’ iconic eight gold medals, the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 were truly unforgettable. Relive the 10-year anniversary of the Games through Aug. 24 as TeamUSA.org recaps the daily highlights from Beijing. Here’s a look at Team USA's performance on Day 1, Aug. 9, 2008.

One day after an unforgettable Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, Mariel Zagunis started off the medal events on a high note for Team USA.

With former President George H. W. Bush in attendance, Zagunis defeated teammate Sada Jacobson 15-8 in the women’s saber fencing final to claim Team USA’s first gold medal of the Beijing Games. And with fellow American Becca Ward finishing third, U.S. fencers swept an Olympic fencing event for the first time since 1904.

The win came four years after another historic performance for Zagunis, when she won Team USA’s first Olympic fencing gold medal in 100 years.

“We couldn't ask for better results — three American flags being raised,” Zagunis said.

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Zagunis and the fencers weren’t the only Americans to medal on Day 1, although the fourth one wasn’t awarded until a few days later. In Beijing, shooter Jason Turner fell to North Korea’s Kim Jong-Su in the 10-meter air pistol bronze-medal match, but the American was later promoted to bronze when Kim was disqualified for doping.

The first official day of competition in Beijing featured competition in 17 sports, with seven sets of medals being awarded. The action around Beijing and beyond previewed some of the American success that was to come.

Over in the Water Cube, Michael Phelps was gearing up for his historic performance by setting a world record in the 400-meter individual medley heats.

Next door, the U.S. men’s gymnastics team took part in the qualifying round of its competition, finishing sixth.

And a few hours east in Qinhuangdao, the U.S. women’s soccer team bounced back from a loss in its first game (played before the Opening Ceremony) to beat Japan 1-0. Carli Lloyd scored the lone goal.

Chrös McDougall covered the 2008 Games for the Olympic News Service. He has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.