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Mariel Zagunis

Olympic Fencing



What advice do you have for an aspiring Olympic athlete?

Aim high.  Set big dreams and goals.  It helps you to work hard every day


Who were your heroes growing up?

Iris Zimmermann and Ann Marsh.  They were a few years ahead of me.  I really liked watching the Olympics growing up.  It was great watching the Olympians from the major sports - swimming, gymnastics, and track.  It made me excited about the possibility of going there myself someday.


Who has been the toughest competitor you have ever faced?

That's a loaded question.  Currently, it is the 2nd ranked woman in the world - Olga Kharlan.  She is a very tough fighter.  We have gone back in forth in a lot of our bouts this year.  Fortunately, I'm still able to beat her in the major competitors.  In Bejing, the girls from China were the toughest because they had the home field advantage.  The team from Russia was very tough - I didn't have to face them in the Olympics.


When did you first know you could make it to the Olympics?

Both of my parents were Olympians.  They were in the 1976 Olympics in rowing.  I always wanted to be like my parents, so it was a goal of mine to make the Olympics.  The event I do now wasn't an Olympic game until 2004.  I started training in this when it was announced that it would be an Olympic event.


What was your favorite subject in school?

I really liked math because there was always a pattern to it.  In my life I am very organized and particular.  In math, you plug in a problem, work it to smaller numbers, it would divide evenly, and there would be one number that would be the solution. 


What do you like to do in your free time?

I travel a lot for my sport.  I go to international competitions.  I don't have a lot of free time.  When I'm home I like to relax and be with friends.  Recently, I've started to get into cooking.  I like to try new recipes.  I eat something in a foreign country and then try to make it when I get home.  I do a lot of volunteer work in the Portland area - litter patrol, planting trees, and being outside helping the community.


What is your favorite quote and why?

That's a hard question.  I'm really all about quotes.  I hear quotes and I like to write them down and share them.  Two of my favorites are:  "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you've imagined." and another one is from Nike, "All you need is already inside."