Ones to Watch: Mariel Zagunis, fencing

A 90-year-old grandmother from Pittsburgh is paying special attention to the Rio games and the fencing competition. Her granddaughter, Mariel Zagunis, is going for her third gold.

Not a lot of Pittsburgers understand Zagunis’ sport of sabre fencing, but they understand her fire.

“I want to win every competition and I want to win every board game,” said Zagunis. “I want to win every pick-up soccer game that I play. I’m just a competitive person.”

Zagunis is the daughter of Olympic rowers and the granddaughter of Plum’s Peggy Menges, who started competitively swimming at the age of 60. She’s from a family of athletes.

“My older brother wanted to do sword fighting,” Zagunis said. “And so that was kind of what piqued our interest - our family interest in the sport.  And when I tried it for the first time, it was so different than anything that I had done.”

Zagunis won gold in 2004 and again in 2008, but was disappointed in the 2012 games. She’s looking forward to Rio and possibly becoming the most decorated athlete in U.S. fencing history.

“I’m not doing it for history,” she said. “Ultimately, first and foremost, I’m doing what I’m doing for myself.”