July 21, 2000
Former Notre Dame women’s fencing two-time All-American Nicole Mustilli (South Orange, N.J.) helped the U.S. national women’s sabre team win the first-ever American fencing team gold in any weapon at the 2000 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Mustilli teamed with Chris Becker (Portland, Ore.), Sada Jacobsen (Atlanta, Ga.) and Mariel Zagunis (Portland, Ore.) to defeat the heavily favored Italian team by a 45-43 score in the final.
The American team entered the competition seeded 10th and defeated Hungary 45-37 to reach the quarterfinals, where it won by the same score over Azerbaidzan and World Cup women’s sabre champion Elena Jemaeva. Mustilli defeated France’s top fencer 5-2 in the semifinals to help the U.S. reach the gold-medal round with a 45-42 win over the French team.
Top-seeded Italy featured a team composed of four of the top eight finishers from the individual championships held the day before the team event. Becker was the highest-finishing American at 22nd, while Mustilli was 24th and Zagunis 31st. Trailing 42-39, the Italian team scored three consecutive touches to tie the match at 42-42. The Americans then won three of the final four touches for the 45-43 victory to claim the 2000 women’s sabre world title. Women’s sabre is not Olympic sport, and the remaining world fencing champions will be determined at the Sydney Summer Games.
Mustilli helped lead the Irish to four second-place finishes in the NCAA championships during her four years from 1996-99. She combined for a 304-51 record in women’s epee and foil at Notre Dame, the second most wins in Irish history. Mustilli had a 235-40 record in epee and 69-11 in foil. She did not fence sabre at Notre Dame, as women’s sabre was not part of NCAA fencing until the 2000 championships. The 1999 Irish women’s epee captain finished fourth in women’s epee at the 1998 NCAA championships and fifth in 1999 as a senior.
She currently is a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and is one of 32 athletes in the Air Force’s World Class Athlete Program. Mustilli is a member of the U.S. Military Fencing Team and a two-time winner of the Air Force ROTC Warrior Spirit award.