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Fencing at the 2004 Athina Summer Games:

Women's Sabre, Individual

Fencing at the 2004 Summer Games: Next Summer Games


Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Olympic Fencing Hall, Helleniko Olympic Complex, Hellinikon
Date Started: August 17, 2004
Date Finished: August 17, 2004
Format: Single-elimination tournament.

Gold: USA Mariel Zagunis
Silver: CHN Tan Xue
Bronze: USA Sada Jacobson


Ten weeks before the Athens Olympics began, the up and coming American teenager [Mariel Zagunis] was probably resigned to watching proceedings on TV or, at best, from the side-lines as an alternate on the US team. Zagunis, the 19-year-old daughter of parents who had both taken part in rowing at the 1976 Olympics, had the misfortune to be a single place outside the qualifying positions on the world ranking. However she was then blessed by a piece of good luck when the Nigerian Olympic Committee announced that it would not be taking up the qualifying position earned by its top female fencer. Suddenly Zagunis was back in contention.

Ranked only at #3 of the three woman US team, Zagunis was a revelation as the tournament progressed and, as more experienced fencers were defeated, she continued to win and found herself facing former World Champion [Tan Xue] of China for the Olympic championship. The American youngster galloped into an 8-2 lead and, while the Chinese fencer fought back to close the margin to just three points at one stage, Zagunis rallied to record a comfortable victory by 15-9.

Americans fencers had first competed at the Olympic Games in 1900 but only [Albertson Van Zo Post] had previously clinched Olympic gold and he had done it in the long abandoned discipline of single sticks and against a field entirely populated by Americans.

The US team had more to cheer as Zagunis’ compatriot [Sada Jacobson] won the bronze. Zagunis and Jacobson would return to the Olympics in 2008 and face off against each other in the Olympic final as the US made a rare sweep of the medals.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Mariel Zagunis 19 United States USA Gold
2 Tan Xue 20 China CHN Silver
3 Sada Jacobson 21 United States USA Bronze
4 Cătălina Gheorghiţoaia 29 Romania ROU
5 Yelena Nechayeva 25 Russia RUS
6 Léonore Perrus 20 France FRA
7 Yelena Jemayeva 33 Azerbaijan AZE
8 Zhang Ying 22 China CHN
9 Anne-Lise Touya 23 France FRA
10 Gioia Marzocca 25 Italy ITA
11 Aleksandra Socha 22 Poland POL
12 Emily Jacobson 18 United States USA
13 Cécile Argiolas 28 France FRA
14 Ana Faez 32 Cuba CUB
15 Madoka Hisagae 25 Japan JPN
16 Louise Bond-Williams 22 Great Britain GBR
17 Susanne König 30 Germany GER
18 Orsolya Nagy 26 Hungary HUN
19 Lee Sin-Mi 21 South Korea KOR
20 Alejandra Benitez 24 Venezuela VEN
21 Dar'ia Nedashkivska 19 Ukraine UKR
22 Élora Pattaro 18 Brazil BRA
23 Chow Tsz Ki 21 Hong Kong HKG
24 Nafi Toure 32 Senegal SEN