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Ukraine wins team sabre, US takes bronze

Beijing, China (Sports Network) - Ukraine won fencing gold Thursday at the Beijing Olympics, defeating China, 45-44, in an exciting conclusion to the women's team sabre competition.

The United States earned the bronze by defeating France.

China led 40-36 when the final two fencers faced off on the piste. That's when Olga Kharlan led a comeback for the Ukranians, defeating China's Tan Xue, 9-4, in the final encounter.

The score was tied at 44-44 when a bit of controversy occurred. Both Kharlan and Tan thought they recorded the winning touch, but after officials examined the video for a few minutes, no point was awarded. The fencers stepped back on the piste and this time Kharlan recorded the winning touch to give Ukraine the gold.

The U.S. team's finish was disappointing after entering this event as favorites following a clean sweep of the individual sabre on Saturday.

The Americans faced off against the Ukranians in the semifinals with a berth in the gold medal match on the line, but were defeated, 45-39. They then notched a 45-38 victory over the French team in the bronze medal match.

"I'm not going to lie: I was very disappointed," said U.S. fencer Sada Jacobson. "The gold medal is what we came to get. To go back with a bronze is good but it's not what I came to get.

On Saturday, Mariel Zagunis won the individual gold, her second straight in the event, defeating Jacobson, her fellow American. Becca Ward then took the bronze for the U.S. by defeating Russia's Sofiya Velikaya.

This was the first time the women's team sabre competition was contested at the Olympics.

08/14 09:33:19 ET