First, congratulations to Mariel Zagunis and Seth Kelsey on making it to the final 4 of the London Olympics yesterday and to the medalists for putting on a great show. Fencing has come along way in the past 8 years.
I wanted to address an article today in the Washington Post by writer Mike Wise titled Mariel Zagunis loses her fencing semifinal bout, and the Olympic Spirit that was about as critical a piece I’ve read on an athlete since Lebron James said he was “taking his talents to South Beach.”
I’m competing tomorrow, but was so bothered by its contents that I just needed to respond. So, this will be brief but to the point.
Mariel Zagunis was selected as our flag bearer because for her career she has been a role model, an Olympic Champion and a great representative for our sport and the Olympic movement. Yesterday, she carried more pressure and expectations into that fencing tournament than probably any other fencer in US history times two. She was trying to win a gold medal for the 3rd straight Olympics, a feat that not many Olympians in any sport have accomplished.
Unfortunately she came up short, but we’re all proud of her.
Mr Wise: Maybe she didn’t respond to defeat to your liking, but she didn’t make excuses, throw her equipment, curse anyone out or do anything but respond as best she could to an emotionally challenging situation. I have seen far worst displays from athletes and this one certainly didn’t warrant the zeal to which you attacked her in your article.
It is legitimate to criticize athletes for their behavior (yes, even fencers), but your article was a personal attack. The Washington Post should know better and this belonged more in an “OP-ED” section that a sports section.
To quote a bit from Mike Wise in the article:
There goes the emotional sitdown with Costas. The brainless chit-chat in the morning with Matt Lauer and a cereal-box cover are also off the table.
Say buh-bye, America. Mariel Zagunis’s Q-rating just left the building. Thanks for carrying the Stars and Stripes into the Opening Ceremonies, Miss Flag Bearer. Now pack your swords and go home for four years. We’ll call you before we get to Rio.
Really? This is not journalism.
Fencing is a great sport and Mariel Zagunis is a great champion. Whether people are writing about it or not over the next 3 years, she’ll be working hard to achieve her goals while conducting herself as a role model and contributing to our society. She pursues excellence not for the Bob Costas sit down or the Wheaties box, but because she is trying to be the best she can be. And in the end, that IS the Olympic spirit.
PS Don’t mess with the fencing team. We have swords.(and twitter) :)