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.”
Nov 21, 2014, 8:59 AM EST
“Unbroken” film about Olympian and World War II hero comes out on Christmas.
Nov 20, 2014, 5:34 PM EST
Young Dmitry Melnichenko lost the match, then lost his cool.
Nov 20, 2014, 4:57 PM EST
Olympic ski slopestyle champion uses a chainsaw every day.
Nov 20, 2014, 3:03 PM EST
Vito thought he had what it took to make the Olympic team, but judges didn’t see it the same way.
Nov 19, 2014, 11:30 PM EST
Olympic champion could face the only woman who beat her in the quarterfinals.
Nov 19, 2014, 8:25 PM EST
“I don’t really want to race unless I have a shot at winning.”
Nov 19, 2014, 1:40 PM EST
Her name could be “erased from the list of participants,” IOC president said.
Nov 19, 2014, 11:29 AM EST
Eight stadium events will have morning finals, a first for Olympic track and field since 1988.
Nov 18, 2014, 4:11 PM EST
The IOC will vote on 40 proposed changes to the Olympics in December.
Nov 18, 2014, 4:01 PM EST
Also, Natalie Coughlin said she reached out to Phelps.
Nov 18, 2014, 3:52 PM EST
Four years ago, Michael Phelps’ coach said Lochte was the world’s best swimmer.
Nov 18, 2014, 9:23 AM EST
U.S. has never hosted the World Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Nov 17, 2014, 4:35 PM EST
Olympic silver medalist’s partner in London was April Ross, who is now with Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Nov 17, 2014, 4:18 PM EST
Both could make history at Rio Olympics.
Nov 17, 2014, 1:42 PM EST
Miller hopes to return one week before the one storied race he has never won.
Nov 17, 2014, 1:16 PM EST
Swede being inducted into Hall of Fame authored one of the iconic Olympic moments in 1994.
Nov 16, 2014, 8:57 AM EST
Sister of New York Jets center was competing in her first World Championships.
Nov 16, 2014, 8:33 AM EST
Ted Ligety well back in first slalom of season.
Nov 15, 2014, 6:59 PM EST
How do Fernandez and Brown’s scores compare across four Grand Prix events?
Kaillie Humphries, Elana Meyers Taylor beat men’s Olympian in first international mixed-gender bobsled race
Nov 15, 2014, 2:52 PM EST
Four-man bobsled is gender neutral this season for the first time.
- Angelina Jolie showed Louis Zamperini scenes of ‘Unbroken’ on hospital bed 0
- Joss Christensen becomes ‘mountain man’ since Sochi Olympics 0
- IOC proposes adding Olympic events, bid reforms 0
- Ryan Lochte: I have no doubt Michael Phelps will come back 1
- Doha gets 2019 World Track and Field Championships over Eugene, Barcelona 2
- Bode Miller out until January due to back surgery 0
- Peter Forsberg and the Olympics 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)