Athlete Profile: Mariel Zagunis

In the countdown to the 2004 Olympic Games, it appeared Mariel Zagunis Olympic dream had slipped away and she would be forced to wait four more years for another try. She was the highest ranked American fencer not to qualify for the Olympic Team. 

Then, just weeks before Team USA embarked on the trip to Athens, opportunity knocked. Nigeria declined to send its team to The Games. Mariel seized the moment that would change her life. She went on to win the Olympic gold medal.

After four years and countless trips to award podiums around the world, Mariel returned to the Olympic Games in Beijing, to defend her title. She did, and then some, capturing her second individual Olympic gold medal and adding a bronze medal in the team competition. Still at the top of her game, Mariel is the World Champion and ranked #1 in the world.

A native of Beaverton, OR, Mariel has the Olympics in her blood. Both of her parents were rowers, who met at the 1976 Olympic trials and competed at The Games in Montreal. She first picked up a sabre (sword) at ten years old and began competing against the best in the world at just 14. In 2001, she was Cadet World Champion (under 17), Junior World Champion (under 20) and Junior Team World Champion all at the same time, a historic first. She's won everything there is to win in fencing, most more than once.

The middle sister of two brothers who also fence, Mariel spends her free time experimenting in the kitchen, playing tennis and volunteering. In August of 2010, The US Olympic Committee named Mariel one of the Top 12 Athletes to Watch at the London Olympics.