Jul 18, 2014, 3:09 PM EST
The most decorated U.S. fencer ever nearly returned to the top of her sport for the first time in four years Friday, but she couldn’t get past the world’s best.
Two-time Olympic champion Mariel Zagunis lost in the World Championships sabre final in Kazan, Russia, seeking her first World title since 2010.
Zagunis, ranked No. 2 in the world, fell 15-12 to top-ranked Ukrainian Olga Kharlan, who won her second straight World title. Zagunis picked up silver, her 11th career Worlds medal and fifth individual, after finishing fourth at the 2012 Olympics and losing in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Worlds.
“I’m always disappointed in any competition for not getting gold,” Zagunis said in a phone interview shortly after stepping off the podium. “I put pretty high standards on myself. Overall today, I’m pleased with the way I fenced. It was a long, hard-fought day to get to the gold-medal match [having to win five matches before the final].”
Kharlan and Zagunis played to seven ties in their final, with Kharlan falling off the strip on one point and doing the splits on the next after a brief delay. Kharlan took control from 11-all for the victory.
“I knew that there was very little room for error,” Zagunis said. “I gave up a few missed opportunities, and she capitalized on that. … Today went according to plan [overall]. It was still a close bout with me and Olga. It could have gone either way. A few touches here and there.”
Zagunis and Kharlan previously met in the 2012 Olympic bronze-medal match, where Kharlan came from behind to keep Zagunis from winning her third straight Olympic medal in the event (Zagunis won the first two golds in 2004 and 2008).
Zagunis’ semifinal in Kazan was also close, but she pulled away from 10-all to beat Russian Yana Egorian 15-12 to clinch a medal (fencing worlds award double bronzes).
“It feels really good to be back on the podium,” Zagunis said. “That’s one thing I’m taking away from today that’s a huge positive.”
Zagunis won the U.S.’ first medal of the World Championships on the first day of finals competition. The event continues through Wednesday, highlighted by reigning World foil champion Miles Chamley-Watson going on Saturday.
The World Championships are the end of Zagunis’ season. She’ll take a break and then try to qualify for her fourth Olympic Team beginning in April.
“Compared to last year’s World Championships and the way I performed there, this is a really big step forward for me,” Zagunis said.
In 2016, Zagunis could become the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s individual fencing medalist ever. She carried the U.S. flag at the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.
Zagunis may continue to fence beyond the Rio de Janeiro Games.
“I don’t want to say Rio will be the last one, because who knows what’s going to happen there,” she said. “Fencing the way I fenced today kind of reinvigorated me.”
Dec 17, 2014, 5:38 PM EST
Decision details Gay’s acquisition and use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Dec 17, 2014, 5:31 PM EST
Fukushima’s previous governor pitched the area to be part of Tokyo 2020, too.
Dec 17, 2014, 3:29 PM EST
A look at host nation medal contenders for Rio 2016.
Dec 17, 2014, 2:37 PM EST
“It is breach of privacy with malicious target to soil my name.”
Dec 17, 2014, 1:51 PM EST
Japanese teen says he wasn’t satisfied winning silver in Sochi.
Dec 17, 2014, 9:55 AM EST
History shows that’s quite an ambitious goal.
Dec 16, 2014, 7:12 PM EST
USOC could wait until February to announce its city.
Dec 16, 2014, 11:36 AM EST
Bacteria found next to the starting point for Rio Olympic sailing events.
Dec 16, 2014, 9:57 AM EST
South Korea’s most decorated LPGA Tour player would have a tough time qualifying for Rio 2016.
Dec 15, 2014, 1:51 PM EST
Two retired running backs could join a long list of NFL Olympians.
Dec 15, 2014, 1:38 PM EST
Roger Federer won the Swiss men’s award, in a year he didn’t win a Grand Slam, over a Slam winner and a two-time Sochi gold medalist.
Dec 15, 2014, 11:49 AM EST
The USOC is expected to announce if it will bid for the 2024 Olympics on Tuesday, and possibly name the city.
Dec 15, 2014, 11:06 AM EST
Thirteen finals will be in morning sessions.
Dec 15, 2014, 7:44 AM EST
Another challenger to a potential U.S. bid.
Dec 14, 2014, 8:39 PM EST
The meaning behind “Vinicius” and “Tom.”
Dec 14, 2014, 5:35 PM EST
Kenworthy got the best of his Sochi Olympic podium teammates.
Dec 14, 2014, 12:09 PM EST
Olympic champion’s chances of racing World Championships super-G in doubt.
Dec 14, 2014, 11:30 AM EST
Action wraps up with ski and snowboard slopestyle.
Dec 13, 2014, 6:32 PM EST
U.S. Olympians rack up victories in Breckenridge.
Dec 13, 2014, 3:56 PM EST
Japan’s Olympic champion joins exclusive company in winning back-to-back titles.
- U.S. will bid for 2024 Olympics, no city chosen yet 5
- Adrian Peterson won’t try for Olympics, but other RBs might 2
- Rio Olympic track and field schedule released 1
- Rome to bid for 2024 Olympics, possible events in Vatican City 0
- Yuzuru Hanyu repeats as Grand Prix Final champion (video) 0
- Ashley Wagner denies Russian sweep at Grand Prix Final (video) 0
- Mikaela Shiffrin: I have to learn how to come back 1
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)