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Ward steps to the fore at saber championships

The Cedar Mill teenager bests Olympic champ Zagunis in the finale
by: submitted photo, SABER STARS — Cedar Mill’s Becca Ward (right) and Beaverton’s Mariel Zagunis (here with coach Ed Korfanty) went 1-2 in the World Saber Champion-ships on Oct. 2.

Rebecca Ward, 16, of Cedar Mill, became the new Senior World Champion in Women's Saber fencing Oct. 2 in Torino, Italy at the 2006 Senior World Championships.

While claiming international fencing's top prize, Ward's victory also came with a number of other historic achievements, including:

n At 16, she becomes the youngest Senior World Champion in history.

n She becomes the only fencer to ever win the Cadet, Junior and Senior World Championships in a single season. Her Cadet and Junior victories came at the 2006 Cadet/Junior World Champion-ships in Taebaek City, Korea, in April.

n She became the only fencer to simultaneously hold all five possible World Championship gold medals (her three individual medals, plus the 2006 Junior Team World Championship and the Senior Team World Championship from Leipzig in the 2005 Senior World Championships). The 2006 Team competition was held a week after the individual meet in Torino, so she held the 'all five' designation for just a short period of time).

n Her Senior gold medal is the first for the USA in individual World Championships competition.

Ward narrowly missed a single year Grand Slam, but, she and her teammates won the Silver Medal in the Senior Team competition on Saturday, losing a close bout to France.

Beaverton fencer Caity Thompson was the fourth member of the U.S. Saber team and brought home a silver Team medal as well.

In addition to Ward's gold medal, teammate Mariel Zagunis of Beaverton took the silver and Sada Jacobson of Dunwoody, Ga., took the bronze.

Ward had to survive five straight match points in the semifinals of the individual championships against Korean fencer Hye Lim Kim. After trailing 10-14, she prevailed 15-14 to advance into the finals against Zagunis, the 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist.

Ward then defeated Zagunis 15-11 to become the Senior World Champion.

Until the Women's Saber accomplishments at the 2006 championships in Torino, Italy, the USA had never won any individual medal at the Senior World Championships.

Rebecca, Mariel and Caity are all coached by Ed Korfanty at the Oregon Fencing Alliance in Beaverton.