BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Two-time defending sabre gold medalist Mariel Zagunis has been named flagbearer for the American team when they march into the stadium Friday night for the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London.
"I'm extremely humbled by this incredible privilege," Zagunis said Wednesday. "As an athlete, I can't imagine a higher honor than to lead Team USA into the Olympic Games, which are the pinnacle of sport and a platform for world peace. I am tremendously proud to represent my sport, our team and, most importantly, the United States of America."
Mariel's mom told KGW later in the day that she "couldn't make a mother any more proud."
Photos & Video: Fencing champ Mariel Zagunis in action
Zagunis was the first American to win a fencing gold in 100 years at the 2004 Athens Games.
Women's sabre made its debut in Athens, and Zagunis was the highest ranked fencer not to qualify. When Nigeria failed to send their athlete, she became eligible and went on to defeat four opponents en route to an improbable gold medal.
Zagunis entered the 2008 Beijing Olympics seeded sixth. She beat both her higher-seeded American teammates, Becca Ward and Sada Jacobson. She would go on to beat them in the semifinals and in the gold medal match respectively. Ward's win over Sophia Velikaia in the bronze medal match gave the U.S. a sweep of the women's sabre podium.
Zagunis is the fourth fencer to receive the honor, but the first since Janice Lee Romary at the 1968 Mexico City Games.