Ibtihaj Muhammad, Mariel Zagunis highlight Team USA in sabre event

Fencing continues on Day 3 of the Olympics where the women return to the piste to compete in the individual sabre competition.

Ibtihaj Muhammad will make her Olympic debut for Team USA. When she does, she will become the first Muslim-American to compete at the Olympics wearing a hijab, a headscarf worn by Muslim women. She is expected to be an outside medal contender.

Whatever Muhammad accomplishes on the piste won’t be as satisfying to her as inspiring others.

“It’s almost not even about me at this point. I would rather set the bar, the standard for other people to reach the same level of success and to believe that they can do it,” she told the NBC Olympics Research Team. “For me, I’m doing it for other minorities like myself who may have been told at some point when they were younger or even now that it’s not something they can do, and for them to believe they can.”

With most of the attention on Muhammad, teammate Mariel Zagunis will look to rebound after her disappointing fourth place finish at the London Games. She won silver at Worlds in 2014 and most recently placed 10th in 2015.

They will be joined by Dagmara Wozniak who makes her second Olympic appearance. Wozniak reached the quarterfinals in London before losing to eventual silver medalist and current #1 ranked fencer Sophia Velikaya of Russia. She placed 12th at Worlds in 2015.

Along with Zagunis, Russia’s Velikaya and the Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan are all considered favorites to win the gold medal.

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