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Chilliwack athlete heads to Paris Olympics for third consecutive time

Chilliwack athlete heads to Paris Olympics for third consecutive time

Clay won Canada’s first ever Pan-American gold medal on the pommel horse at last year’s competitions in Chile

For the third consecutive Olympic Games, an athlete representing Chilliwack will compete at the highest level.

It was announced Friday (June 28) that Zachary Clay will be one of 11 athletes the Canadian gymnastics team will take to Paris for the upcoming Summer Games.

Athletes were judged based on their performance at the national championships held earlier this month in Gatineau, QC. There, the 28-year-old won a silver medal in the pommel horse event.

Clay was also part of the men’s team that took home silver at the 2023 Pan American Games in Chile, where he won gold on pommel horse. Before that, he was also part of the team that secured bronze at the 2019 Games in Peru – the first time since 1999 that a men’s team has won a medal at the Pan Am Games.

“So incredibly happy to say I made the Olympic team,” Clay wrote via his Instagram following the announcement.

Paris will mark the first time since the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing that an all-Canadian men’s artistic gymnastics team will compete at the Olympics. The team officially secured their spot in Paris when they finished fourth in team qualifying at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

Clay trains at Twisters Gymnastics Club in Abbotsford, where he is coached by former Olympians and brothers Richard and Ken Ikeda. Richard competed in the 1996 Olympics before his brother attended the 2004 Summer Games.

“My son Nicholas Hajiadem trains with Zach and we are all so proud of him,” said Nancy Soerjawan. “He has a brilliant work ethic, is humble and a great role model for everyone around him.”

Clay joins the likes of Jordyn Huitema (soccer, 2020) and Reece Howden (freestyle skiing, 2022) as Chilliwack’s most recent Olympic athletes.