Nov. 4, 2005
On Monday, November 7 at 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM (ET/PT), SHOWTIME presents a rare opportunity to relive one of the most dramatic and memorable Olympics in recent history in the original documentary BUD GREENSPAN PRESENTS ATHENS 2004: STORIES OF OLYMPIC GLORY. With behind-the-scenes footage and a poignant narrative, this film presents Greenspan’s signature brand of powerful storytelling set in the ceremonial birth place of the Olympics – Athens, Greece.
The inspiring story of U.S. fencer Mariel Zagunis is one of only two U.S. athletes to be featured in the film. Be sure to tune in, and if you enjoy the film, let Showtime and Viacom know! Contact Showtime Networks’ Customer Care Department at 877-474-6984 Monday through Friday 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM Eastern Time. You can also write to Showtime Customer Care Department Showtime Networks Inc., 1633 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. Let them hear how wonderful it is to see Mariel’s and fencing’s story told.
Written, produced and directed by EmmyÂ® and Peabody Award-winning sports chronicler Bud Greenspan, this original documentary presents a powerful and emotional look at stories from the 2004 Athens Olympics, held in the shadow of the ancient Parthenon in Greece – within the country that gave birth to the Games in 776 BC and were home to their modern revival in 1896.
As in all of his Olympic films, Greenspan combines rare footage with insightful interviews from athletes, coaches and family members to create personal behind-the-scenes tales of some of the stars of the games. ATHENS 2004 features two Americans: Mariel Zagunis, winner of the first Gold Medal in fencing for the United States in 100 years; and Lisa Fernandez, who led the Women’s Softball team to its third straight Gold Medal in Athens. Also featured are the thrilling stories of 1,500- and 5,000-meter Moroccan track Gold Medalist Hicham El Guerrouj; Greek Weightlifter and national hero, Pyrros Dimas; Australian cycling champions, sisters Anna and Kerrie Meares; and the emotional tale of Polish swimmer, Otylia Jedrzejczak, who auctions her Gold Medal to benefit the children of her country suffering with Leukemia.
The film marks the tenth in a series of official Olympic films by Greenspan and his company, Cappy Productions, Inc. His previous nine Olympic documentaries chronicled the Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney Summer Olympic Games, as well as the Calgary, Lillehammer, Nagano and Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.
Mariel Zagunis (USA) Fencing
Of the many memorable events in Athens, one event – Women’s Saber – could be described as truly historic; the first time it would be contested in the Olympic Games. Of the four women competing in the semi-finals, two are American: the number one-ranked fencer in the world, 21-year old Sada Jacobson and 19-year-old Mariel Zagunis. As the two prepared for their bouts there would be an additional chance to make history – not since the 1904 St. Louis Games had an American, male or female, won a Gold Medal in fencing.
Months earlier, at the World Cup meet in Italy that would determine the U.S. Olympic Team, Zagunis failed to qualify. “It came down to the last bout of the last tournament of the last touch, the last few seconds … it was devastating”, Zagunis recalled. As the highest ranked fencer in the world not competing in the Olympics, Zagunis became the world alternate, in the event that a fencer withdrew from the competition. By luck, a Nigerian fencer drops out, placing Zagunis in the competition. In the Gold Medal bout against Tan Xue of China, Mariel Zagunis would prove impossible to beat and goes on to win the first Gold Medal in Women’s Saber – completing a journey that once seemed impossible. And for the first time in 100 years at the Olympic Games, the national anthem is played for an American fencer.