PORTLAND, Ore — Beaverton native Mariel Zagunis burst onto the Olympic scene when she won a gold medal in 2004 at the Olympics in Athens. Fast forward to 2021: Zagunis is now a five-time Olympian and she's also competing for the first time as a mom.
Zagunis is the most decorated fencer on Team USA and Olympic pedigree runs in the family. Both her parents competed as rowers at the Olympics in 1976.
"When I found fencing, I started doing pretty well," said Zagunis. "And on top of having parents who are Olympians, and having that always be a bug in my head, I knew that when I started winning at fencing very early that I wanted to be an Olympic champion."
After Zagunis won gold in Athens, she followed it up with another gold medal in Women's sabre in Beijing. She also took home bronze in the team event in 2008.
One of the biggest honors of her career came in the 2012 Olympics in London. Zagunis got to carry the U.S. Flag at the Parade of Nations.
Despite not coming home with a medal in London, Zagunis was far from done. She earned another bronze medal in the team event at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
After the Olympics, Zagunis decided to start a family. She gave birth to her daughter, Sunday Noelle, in 2017. Zagunis is looking forward to proving that you don't have to choose between being an athlete and a mom.
"To come back after having a child and continue to train and continue to get back to the level that I was before having a baby will, in the long run, show a lot to her -- set a good example to her and that's what's most important," said Zagunis.
She earned a spot on Team USA after winning a gold medal last year at the FIE World Cup in Greece.
"I've done a lot for my sport already," said Zagunis. "I'm not trying to prove anything to anybody except to myself that I'm still a good fencer and I'm capable of beating the best in the world and becoming Olympic champion once again."