Mariel Zagunis forgives her U.S. teammates for nearly dropping her after lifting her overhead in celebration of her historic gold medal, the first by an American fencer since 1904. "So what?" said Zagunis (inset), 19. "I'd just get up and keep screaming."

The Oregon native was awarded a spot in the Games in June when a Nigerian competitor withdrew; Zagunis, whose parents rowed for the U.S. in the '76 Games, was the highest-ranked fencer not in the field. --B.C.

COLOR PHOTOPhotograph by Lynn Johnson