Notre Dame junior forward Natalie Achonwa (left, #11) averaged 7.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, helping Canada reach the Olympic quarterfinals for the first time since 1984.

Notre Dame Daily Olympics Recap - Aug. 1, 2012

Aug. 1, 2012

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Former Notre Dame fencer Mariel Zagunis went in search of her third consecutive gold medal for the United States in the individual sabre competition, while current Fighting Irish junior women’s basketball forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary’s Catholic) turned in a stellar performance on the hardwood for Team Canada to highlight Wednesday’s action involving Notre Dame athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.

Zagunis, the two-time defending gold medalist in individual sabre, finished fourth in this year’s competition that was held Wednesday at the Excel Exhibition Centre in London. The Beaverton, Ore., native rolled to the semifinals with wins over Dian Permatasari of Indonesia (15-7), Seira Nakayama of Japan (15-9) and Min Zhu of China (15-6), and appeared poised to return to the gold medal bout, leading her semifinal contest with South Korea’s Jiyeon Kim, 8-2 after the first period and 12-6 midway through the second. However, Kim rallied and scored nine of the final 10 points to upset Zagunis, 15-13, dropping the American into the bronze medal contest.

Zagunis had only one hour to regroup before competing for the bronze against Olga Kharlan of the Ukraine. Again, Zagunis took an early lead, going ahead 4-1, but Kharlan came back to tie the score before Zagunis regained a 9-7 advantage. Kharlan then had the final response, scoring eight of the last nine points to claim a 15-10 win.

Achonwa had her best outing of this year’s Olympics, coming off the bench to score 14 points (5-10 FG) and grab a game-high eight rebounds, but it wasn’t quite enough as France edged Canada, 64-60, in Group B action on Wednesday morning at the Olympic Basketball Arena in London.

Five of Achonwa’s eight rebounds came at the offensive end, including two from missed free throws that she cashed into putback baskets. Achonwa drew a foul on the second of her offensive rebound buckets with nine seconds left, and converted the old-fashioned three-point play to bring Canada within 62-60, but France hit two foul shots one second later to hold off the hard-charging Maple Leafs.

Canada (1-2) returns to preliminary round action at 9:30 a.m. (ET) Friday against Brazil (0-3) at the Olympic Basketball Arena, with the Canadians likely needing one win in their final two group games to reach the quarterfinals. Friday’s game with Brazil will be televised live on the NBC Olympic Basketball Channel, as well as on-line at and, and through the NBC Live Extra mobile app.

Notre Dame freshman fencer Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky./Dunbar) is back on the piste Thursday for the women’s team foil competition, which starts at 5:30 a.m. (ET) with a quarterfinal bout against South Korea. The semifinals are scheduled for 7 a.m. (ET), the placement (fifth-eighth place) bouts will be at 10 a.m. (ET), with the bronze medal contests set for 1 p.m. (ET) and the gold medal bouts at 2:15 p.m. (ET). At this time, live coverage is limited to the on-line broadcast on, or through the NBC Live Extra mobile app.

For more information on Notre Dame participants at the 2012 London Olympics, visit the special Notre Dame Olympics microsite (, the official London Olympics web site ( or the official NBC Olympics web site (

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