Polk, Zagunis add to Notre Dame's Olympic medal haul

IRISH STEW

ND Insider Staff Report
ND Insider

Amanda Polk, a 2008 Notre Dame graduate and four-time All-American with the Irish is a member of the United States Women’s Eight that powered to victory (6:01:49) in the Grand Finale Saturday morning at Lagao Stadium in Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil.

The U.S. Rowing Women’s Eight has won 11 consecutive world titles — every world championship and Olympic title since 2006. The 1963-76 Soviet Union hockey team won 14 consecutive world titles.

Polk, who just missed out on the 2012 championship roster in London as an alternate, is the first Notre Dame rower to earn a gold medal at the Olympics.

Polk has been a part of the United States national rowing scene since 2004, when she was a member of the U.S. Junior Women’s National Rowing team. Polk won gold in the eight at the 2015, 2014 and 2013 World Rowing Championships. At the 2012 World Rowing Cup 2, she was a member of the gold medal-winning eight, that set a world record time (5:54.17).

Bronze for Zagunis

Mariel Zagunis of the United States celebrates after defeating Italy in a women's team sabre fencing bronze medal final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

For the second time in as many days, a former Notre Dame fencer took home an Olympic bronze medal, as Mariel Zagunis and the United States women’s sabre team defeated Italy, 45-30 Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.

Zagunis, who closed out the victory in the anchor position, outscored her Italian opponents 15-9 in helping to lead the U.S. to bronze for the second time in as many times as the weapon has been contested on the team level. Zagunis and Team USA also brought home the hardware at the 2008 Games in Beijing. Sabre was not included in the 2012 Olympic program in London.

The U.S. led from the outset, winning all nine rounds in the rout. It came after a close 45-43 quarterfinal win over Poland to start the day and near-comeback in a 45-42 loss to Russia in the semifinal. Zagunis lost just two bouts, out-touching opponents 48-36 across all three matches.

It was the second U.S. fencing medal with Irish ties of the Games, as Gerek Meinhardt and the men's foil team collected bronze on Friday.

It was the fourth career Olympic medal for Zagunis, who also collected individual gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Games, the first American fencer to win a gold medal in Olympic competition.

Emily Regan, Kerry Simmonds, Amanda Polk, Lauren Schmetterling, Tessa Gobbo, Meghan Musnicki, Eleanor Logan, Amanda Elmore and Katelin Snyder, of United States, celebrate after receiving their gold medals in the women's rowing eight final during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt York)