Mariel Zagunis

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Ibtihaj Muhammad and U.S. fencers eliminated at Worlds

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Ibtihaj Muhammad lost to Germany’s Ann-Sophie Kindler, 15-12, in her opening bout of the women’s individual sabre, Round of 64, at the 2017 World Fencing Championships in Leipzig, Germany. Muhammad finished the event ranked 36th. Her best finish at Worlds in individual sabre came in 2013 when she finished 18th.

Famously becoming the first U.S. athlete to compete at an Olympic Games while wearing a hijab, Muhammad stood on the fencing team sabre event podium at the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning bronze with fellow fencers Monica Aksamit, Dagmara Wozniak and Mariel Zagunis.

Also appearing in the women’s individual sabre Round of 64 for the U.S. at Worlds, Monica Aksamit and Dagmara Wozniak won their opening bouts. Wozniak, currently the highest ranking U.S. fencer in sabre at 18th in the world, defeated China’s Jia Xiaoye and Aksamit beat Hong Kong’s Chan Yin Fei – both contests ending with a score of 15-9.

The Americans were unable to make it two-in-a-row after advancing to the Round of 32, as both fell to their opponents. Wozniak was beaten in a close battle, 14-15, by Russia’s Sofia Pozdniakova while Aksamit was knocked out by Japan’s Norika Tamura, 11-15.

Mariel Zagunis, one of only two U.S. fencers to win Olympic gold – her first coming in 2004 – was not on the pistes in Leipzig. This year is the first time Zagunis has been absent for a world championships since 1999. Back in May of 2017, Zagunis announced she was pregnant, expecting the birth of her first child in October. Zagunis is planning her return to competition and for a run at what would be her fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

Muhammad, Aksamit and Wozniak will be back in action at Worlds on July 25 when they are joined by Anne-Elizabeth Stone to compete in the women’s team sabre event.

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MORE: Mariel Zagunis announces pregnancy

Mariel Zagunis announces pregnancy

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Mariel Zagunis, a four-time U.S. Olympic medalist fencer, is pregnant with her first child, due in October, and plans to return for a fifth Olympic run.

Zagunis, 32, is one of only two Americans to earn Olympic fencing gold, winning the sabre in 2004 and 2008.

She lost in the semifinals in 2012 and the round of 16 in Rio but rebounded last summer to help the U.S. to bronze in the team event.

Zagunis was unsure in August if she would continue on to 2020, but now that appears certain.

“I definitely see Tokyo in my future,” Zagunis said in December, according to the Portland Tribune. “I’m not fulfilled. That’s part of who I am. I always want to keep going. I always want to do more. It’s a blessing and a curse to feel dissatisfied with not winning all the time.”

She competed once since Rio, taking bronze at a World Cup event in China in March in an early stage of her pregnancy.

Come Tokyo, Zagunis will be 35, which is older than any U.S. Olympic fencer since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

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Mariel Zagunis eyes 2020 Olympics

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In those painful times in Rio, Mariel Zagunis wasn’t sure if she wanted to keep going for a fifth Olympics in 2020.

The horizon is clearer now.

“I definitely see Tokyo in my future,” Zagunis said, according to the Portland Tribune. “I’m not fulfilled. That’s part of who I am. I always want to keep going. I always want to do more. It’s a blessing and a curse to feel dissatisfied with not winning all the time.”

Zagunis, 31, earned her fourth Olympic medal in Rio, a team bronze, becoming the first U.S. fencer to make the podium at three Olympics.

But individually, Zagunis was upset for a second straight Olympics. After winning gold in 2004 and 2008, Zagunis lost the bronze-medal match in London and bowed out in the round of 16 in Rio. Zagunis was ranked No. 2 in the world when she qualified for the Olympic team last winter.

“I’m still beating myself up over my performance,” Zagunis said, according to the newspaper.

Come Tokyo, Zagunis will be 35, which is older than any U.S. Olympic fencer since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

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