Mariel Zagunis Will Lead Team USA Into Olympic Games

07/27/2012 at 12:50 PM EDT

Opening Ceremony London 2012, Olympics 2012, Mariel Zagunis
Mariel Zagunis
Brand Thissen/Landov
Late Wednesday evening, Mariel Zagunis learned she would lead Team USA into the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The world fencing champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist – who won her first gold at the tender age of 19, during the 2004 Games in Athens – told the press at Olympic Park that being voted the team's flag bearer was an honor.

"It really means the world to me. This will be one of my best memories," said Zagunis, 27.

Team captains at a meeting Wednesday each nominated an athlete for the coveted role. "My representative in fencing was Tim Morehouse. He pitched my story to the rest of the athletes, and I guess he did a really good job."

"Tim told me he was going to nominate me. He's a big advocate of [fencing] in terms of getting it out there. A couple of days ago, he said he was going to make the pitch and bring my name into the vote. When I found out last night, he burst into my room and he was really excited."

Zagunis graciously accepted the role, speaking fondly of the athletic community at the Games.

She said: "There [are] so many amazing athletes who are part of the team. Everybody here has worked so hard and dedicated their life to be at this point in their careers. It's never easy to make the Olympic games, so to be up against other Team USA athletes that I'm sure I know have amazing stories and to be chosen that really says a lot and to be the flag bearer, you're the sole representative of Team USA."

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