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.
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.
|1||Mariel Zagunis||19||United States||USA||Gold|
|3||Sada Jacobson||21||United States||USA||Bronze|
|12||Emily Jacobson||18||United States||USA|
|16||Louise Bond-Williams||22||Great Britain||GBR|
|19||Lee Sin-Mi||21||South Korea||KOR|
|23||Chow Tsz Ki||21||Hong Kong||HKG|