Feb. 25, 2010

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Notre Dame, Ind. – Former Irish fencer Mariel Zagunis was honored at halftime of the Notre Dame men’s basketball game versus Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Feb. 24 for her gold medal winning performance at the 2009 Fencing World Championships, which took place in Antalya, Turkey.

“I could not be more thankful for the huge support system which Notre Dame has provided me,” Zagunis said. “They have followed my success and having a trip like this where they invite me back to campus, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Zagunis captured the 2009 women’s sabre world championship on October 3, 2009 by capping off a dominant run through the final table of 64 to retain her place atop the women’s sabre world. With the win, the Beaverton, Ore. native adds to her growing list of accomplishments, having already captured gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games. With the 2009 world Championship, Zagunis became the first American to medal at the event.

Zagunis was the top seed in the final table of 64, having earned a high enough rank entering the event to skip the qualifying pool play stages. She proceeded to defeat Hye Lim Kim (15-12), Sevil Bunyatova (15-2) and countrywoman Daria Schneider (15-5) to advance to the final eight.

In the final table of eight, Zagunis knocked off Olena Khomrova of the Ukraine, 15-8 to advance to the semifinals. In the semis, Zagunis defeated fifth-seeded Carole Vergne of France, 15-12. In the Championship bout, Zagunis rolled to a 15-6 win over second-seeded Olga Kharlan of Ukraine to remain atop the women’s sabre field.

Zagunis enrolled at Notre Dame in the fall of 2004 and helped lead the Irish to the 2005 NCAA title. She competed with the Fighting Irish for two seasons and compiled an impressive resume that included the 2006 NCAA sabre crown and the 2005 national runner-up spot. Zagunis registered a 75-3 regular-season record with the Irish.

Zagunis captured the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a 15-8 win over fellow American Sada Jacobson. It marked Zagunis’ second Olympic gold, having also won in 2004, when she became the first American in a century to win a fencing gold. With her twin gold medals, Zagunis is not only the first U.S. fencer ever to win multiple sabre golds, but also the first of any nationality since France’s Jean-Francois Lamour won golds in men’s sabre in 1984 and 1988 (the women’s sabre event was added in 2004). Zagunis also became the first former Notre Dame student-athlete ever to earn multiple Olympic gold medals.