LONDON -- When Cathy Zagunis learned that her daughter, Mariel was chosen to carry the flag for the United States in the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics, she was thrilled and started scrambling to change her plane ticket.
That's because she originally planned to arrive in London just in time to watch her daughter compete. Now she has an important reason to get there even sooner.
American team captains from each of the Olympic sports voted on who they thought should represent the U.S. by carrying the national flag and Mariel was the top choice.
Mariel is already a two-time Olympic gold medalist and will defend her title in sabre in London. She became the first American to win a fencing gold in 100 years during the 2004 Athens Games.
Cathy Zagunis, a former Olympian herself, couldn't be more proud.
"I'm very emotional so I'm just excited to be over there and see it and feel it in person," she said.
KGW caught up with her at Portland International Airport Thursday, where she got choked up at the mere mention of her daughter.
"They're going to pick me up at the airport and take me to the hospice house and probably give me a makeover in case NBC pans in on me and sees me crying during the Opening Ceremony," she joked.
Photos: Olympic fencer Mariel Zagunis
Mariel's first 2012 Olympic sabre match will be on August 1st. That gives her plenty of time to focus after her time in the limelight of the Opening Ceremony, said her dad, Robert.
He learned the news about his daughter via a Twitter message from her. "She was very excited, very honored."
Robert Zagunis said he would be there cheering on his daughter for her first sabre event in London.
Mariel's parents divorced years ago but, as she has said in many interviews, they remain a pivotal and supportive part of her life.