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BEIJING 2008

Pointedly, it's a U.S. sweep

August 10, 2008|Kevin Pang | Chicago Tribune

BEIJING -- As she dropped her mask with a flourish and raised both arms in victory, fencer Mariel Zagunis relished the first gold medal for the United States of these 2008 Summer Olympics, defeating fellow American Sada Jacobson, 15-8, in women's individual sabre.

The Americans made it a clean sweep Saturday as pre-Olympics favorite Becca Ward won the bronze, defeating Russia's Sofiya Velikaya, 15-14.

Zagunis also won gold in Athens.

It's the first time a nation has swept an individual fencing event since the 1988 Seoul Olympics, when Germany won in women's foil.

"We couldn't have asked for a better result today, three American flags being raised," said the 23-year-old Zagunis.

Former President George H.W. Bush attended the medal ceremony and greeted the medalists afterward.

Jacobson was the top-seeded fencer and ranked No. 1 in the world.

She improved on her bronze-medal showing in Athens.

"She just out-fenced me today. She earned it," said Jacobson, 25. "When we're on the strip, it's all business, and then we get off and we're teammates again."

The Americans will next compete in the women's team sabre event Thursday.

In the first semifinal, Jacobson came back from 6-2 to beat Velikaya, 15-11. Zagunis defeated Ward, also 15-11, in the second semifinal.

Ward, the 18-year-old fencing phenom from Oregon, was a favorite entering the Games. In her bronze-medal bout, she rallied from 6-1 to force a 14-14 tie. As the referee reviewed match point on video, tension filled the fencing hall.

"Then I saw the USA section that was by the video screen jump up and start cheering," Ward said. "I was very, very happy."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

FENCING

Women's Individual Sabre

*--* Medal winners G: Mariel Zagunis (U.S.) S: Sada Jacobson (U.S.) B: Becca Ward (U.S.) *--*

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