It was a night of firsts in the world of Olympic fencing — gold medal favorite Mariel Zagunis fell out of medal contention, Norway collected its first-ever Olympic fencing medal and Venezuela won gold for the first time in 44 years.
In the semifinals on Wednesday, Zagunis, the top seed in the women’s draw, lost to Kim by a 15-13 score after leading the contest 12-6. The South Korean went on to beat Sophia Velikaya of Russia, 15-9, in the gold medal match.
The loss came as quite a shock as Zagunis has won both events since women’s saber first hit the scene at the 2004 Games in Athens. That win made her the first American to earn gold in Olympic fencing. She also won the bronze with the American team in Beijing in 2008.
Although Zagunis will go home empty-handed, she had the experience of a lifetime as she carried the flag for Team USA in the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremonies.
“It was a great honor,” Zagunis said of being the U.S. flagbearer. “It’s great for fencing that it gave it attention.”
On the men’s side, Venezuela’s Ruben Limardo Gascon won the nation’s first gold in 44 years and their first fencing medal at a Games by beating Bartosz Piasecki of Norway 15-10 in the epee. The silver marked Norway’s first Olympic fencing medal and an unexpected prize for Piasecki who was seeded relatively low coming into the Olympic Games.
Olympic fencer Tim Morehouse knows what it takes to win a medal in this sport.
Morehouse won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and has even taught President Obama to fence on the White House Lawn. He also recently penned an autobiography entitled American Fencer: Modern Lessons from an Ancient Sport, which details Morehouse’s inspiring life path from humble beginnings in a rough New York City neighborhood to his moment on the Olympic podium. Watch Morehouse reveal what to expect from his book:
The autobiography had a special launch April 24, with all book proceeds benefitting Morehouse’s new foundation, Fencing-in-the-Schools, an educational program that brings the sport to inner-city children around the United States. The book will be available in bookstores after the 2012 London Olympic Games.
“It’s about my story from growing up in Washington Heights to winning a silver medal in Beijing,” Morehouse told genConnect. “It has a lot of the allure of fencing and the true life dueling stories that really happen in our sport. I try to share some of the lessons I learn along the way.”
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