The First Female Gold Medalists, Week 14: Beach Volleyball and Fencing

Excerpts taken from Team USA’s article dated March 24, 2016. 

This week, we head to Athens, Greece for the 2004 Games. The Olympics returned to their place of birth and proved to be a monumental for the American women claiming gold.

2004, Athens – Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, Beach Volleyball

May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings both competed at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, May-Treanor finishing fifth on the beach and Walsh Jennings finishing fourth with the indoor squad. The two teamed up in 2001 and soon became the dominant force in beach volleyball. They rode a 90-match win streak into Athens in 2004 and didn’t lose a single set on their way to the gold medal. They went on to win two more Olympic golds together, in 2008 and 2012, and placed first in 104 tournaments.


2004, Athens – Mariel Zagunis, Fencing

Zagunis wasn’t supposed to be a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. But when another fencer dropped out, Zagunis was named to the team. She went on to stun the world, becoming the first U.S. fencer to win an Olympic gold medal in 100 years and the first-ever Olympic gold medalist in women’s saber. She has since become the most decorated athlete in U.S. fencing history, defending her Olympic title in 2008 and winning five world championships. She aims for a third Olympic gold medal in Rio.