Fencer Mariel Zagunis won the first U.S. gold in Beijing, further minting an American rise from obscurity to the leading-edge of the sport.
The 23-year-old was the first American to capture gold in fencing saber in 100 years when she won in Athens, while Zagunis says after a 1-2-3 U.S. sweep in individual saber medals, a team win is now expected.
"It's probably going to be added pressure now, as they go "Oh, you went 1-2-3. why don't you combine your forces and win easily a gold medal," but it's not really that easy. We still have great potential and already got the individual pressures off of us and now we're going to work together, and pull it out, I'm sure."
Despite being a centuries-old sport, technology is increasingly a part of fencing and Zagunis worked with Nike designer Becky Eddington to design ultra-lite shoes.
Eddington says more tech innovations in fencing and other sports are coming, particularly in footwear.
"Honestly in 2005, we were there with maybe a third or a half of Olympic sports - basketball, running, tennis, track and field, but not some of the lesser known sports including fencing, and so we started working with Mariel as she was in our backyard and was an athlete from the Athens Games who won a gold medal and it couldn't have been more fortuitous to have an expert and a willing subject to help test fencing products as we started building prototypes."
Nike is supplying 45,000 pairs of shoes for the Games, over nine times the number in Athens, for athletes ranging from fencers like Zagunis to Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang.