- Beijing - China - Olympic Games
Mariel Zagunis gave the United States its first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics here Saturday as she retained her women's sabre title with victory over her compatriot Sada Jacobson in a final watched by former US President George Bush senior.
Athens champion Zagunis led an American clean-sweep of the podium places with 18-year-old Becca Ward seeing off Russia's Sofiya Velikaya by just a single point, 15-14, in the bronze medal match.
"It's really a dream come true, but I am glad it's over. I am very proud and very happy of what we have done today," said Zagunis.
An emotional Jacobson said: "We are just so proud to be here and to represent our country this way.
"I don't think I had anticipated the emotions I felt during the medal ceremony - President Bush gave me his handkerchief, which is a bit weird."
She added: "It's one of the surreal Olympic experiences - I was at the doping control and someone told me President Bush was waiting for me. I will remenber this for the rest for my life, it's so cool. I should have kept it (the handkerchief)."
"I will remember this for the rest of my life, it's so cool."
In the final Zagunis, runner-up in the 2006 world championships but ranked just fifth in the world this year, went ahead 5-2 and then took the next leg 10-5 for a 15-8 final scoreline which reflected her dominance.
The Americans benefitted from the early exits of medal-contenders Elena Nechaeva of Russia, the reigning world champion, and France's Leonore Perrus.
They were also given a helping hand by Velikaya's crushing 15-9 quarter-final victory over China's Tan Xue, the Olympic silver medallist of four years ago, whose exit before the medal stages disappointed home fans.
The United States are the favourites for the overall team competition, featuring in the Olympic programme for the first time, which takes place on Thursday.
"When we are on the strip we are competitors, we will be team-mates again for the team events," Jacobson promised.