Meet Mariel Zagunis, who has achieved unprecedented success in a sport that is steeped in history and tradition, but one that many people don’t automatically think of when they think of the Olympic Summer games. She has earned 3 Olympic medals, in fencing, 2 of them are gold. Additionally, Mariel has gleaned 3 gold World Championship medals, 8 total.
Mariel is proof that girls can be strong and beautiful. She demonstrates not only physical strength, but strength of character. She is dedicated to long hours of practicing fencing with precision that few can achieve.
She was selected to lead the 529-member 2012 U.S. Olympic Team into tonight’s Opening Ceremony as flag bearer at what will be her third Olympic Games.
“It’s such a great honor,” said Zagunis, “It means a lot to be picked by my fellow athletes. It’s not some random committee thinking that someone is deserving. The athletes are actually picking who is leading them into the opening ceremony. I can’t believe that I’m going to be the one who has that opportunity.”
Her personal Olympic Journey began 8 years ago when she was 19. She was originally not on the US team but had her opportunity when the Nigerian team opted out of women’s individual saber event. Both the event and Mariel Zagunis made their Olympic debut in Athens.
She quickly became the first U.S. fencer to win gold at an Olympic Games in a hundred years.
Later, at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Zagunis defended her gold medal in women’s saber. In Beijing, she couldn’t attend the opening ceremonies because of having a competition the next day.
Mariel is currently the top ranked women’s saber fencer and anticipates becoming a three-time Olympic gold medalist.
Images © Michael Sohn / AP file and http://usfencing.org