Jan. 21, 2011

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In what has become somewhat of an annual tradition, the Monogram Club hosted former Notre Dame fencer Mariel Zagunis on Jan. 19-20 as part of the athletics department’s celebration of her 2010 World Championship sabre title. Zagunis won the gold medal on Nov. 7 in Turkey.

It marks the second-straight season that the Club has hosted the Beaverton, Ore., native on campus, as Zagunis also won the sabre crown at the 2009 World Championship in China.

In addition to meeting with athletics department administrators during her Notre Dame trip, Zagunis was honored at the men’s basketball game versus Cincinnati on Jan. 19 in Purcell Pavilion. Assistant athletics director Maureen McNamara and Irish fencing head coach Janusz Bednarski presented Zagunis with a ceremonial plaque to commemorate her championship run.

“It’s always an honor for me to come back to campus. I’m very proud to be associated with this University,” Zagunis said. “Hopefully I can keep winning and keep having reasons to come back here, because it’s such a great honor.”

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.

In one of her most significant accomplishments to date, 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.

Zagunis hopes to compete in her third Olympic games in London in 2012 and vie for an unprecedented third gold medal. Notre Dame junior Gerek Meinhardt will also look to join her in the United Kingdom. Meinhardt won the NCAA foil crown this past season.

For Zagunis, having such a strong Irish presence on the world fencing stage is a powerful reminder of why she chose to enroll at Notre Dame in 2004.

“There’s a great sense of camaraderie within the Irish fencing program,” Zagunis said. “To have that on campus but then to go halfway across the world and compete not only for our country but for Notre Dame as a national team, it’s really special.”