Tag Archives: Mariel Zagunis

The Face Of American Olympic Fencing

With the Olympic Games 2012 scheduled to begin in only 2 more days, I find it timely to introduce you to a very impressive Olympic fencer.

Olympic fencing distinguishes itself from historical fencing, which is considered among the so-called family of combat sports using bladed weapons.

The three weapons of Olympic fencing are the following:

Foil—a light thrusting weapon that targets the torso, including the back, but not the arms. Touches are scored only with the tip; hits with the side of the blade do not count, and do not halt the action. Touches that land outside of the target area (off-target) stop the action, and are not scored. Only a single hit can be scored by either fencer at one time. If both fencers hit at the same time, the referee uses the rules of right of way to determine which fencer gets the point.

Sabre—a light cutting and thrusting weapon that targets the entire body above the waist, excluding the hands. Hits with the edges of the blade as well as the tip are valid. As in foil, touches which land outside of the target area are not scored. However, unlike foil, these off-target touches do not stop the action, and the fencing continues. In the case of both fencers landing a scoring touch, the referee determines which fencer receives the point for the action, again through the use of “right of way”.

Épée—a heavier thrusting weapon that targets the entire body. All hits must be with the tip and not the sides of the blade. Touches hit by the side of the blade do not halt the action. Unlike foil and sabre, Épée does not use right of way, and allows simultaneous hits by both fencers. However, if the score is tied at the last point and a double touch is scored, nobody is awarded the point. (Source: wikipedia)

When we talk about Olympic fencing, I don’t know about you, but the U.S.A. is not one of the countries that immediately pop into my mind as being anywhere close to a force to reckon with.
I usually think of countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Russia.
However, the Americans have been increasing their worth in the world of Olympic fencing throughout the years.
Among these fencers, one young lady certainly stands out individually, but she has also contributed to the success of the women’s team.

Having won 2 Olympic gold medals in the individual sabre competition in 2004 (Athens, Greece) and thus becoming the first American fencer to win the gold medal in 100 years, Mariel Zagunis attained her second gold medal in 2008 (Beijing, China).

Originally from Beaverton, Oregon, Mariel is the one to beat at this year’s London Games.
Both her parents were rowers during the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada and both her brothers are fencers.
Mariel started with fencing at the age of 10 and throughout the seventeen years of her on-going career she has won numerous World Championship titles as well as numerous national and international events.
En garde!