Zach Ziemek is a man who likes to maximize his time. When you're training for the 10-event decathlon, it's a must.
So when COVID-19 delayed the Tokyo Olympics for a year, Ziemek was determined to make sure that time was well-spent.
"In 2019, I actually ruptured my hamstring and we were deciding on how best to treat it with the Olympics originally scheduled for last year," Ziemek explains. "This extra year has given us time to heal it completely. It gave us this extra window of time and I want to show that I've taken advantage of that window."
Ziemek lives in Sun Prairie and trains full-time with Badgers assistant coach Nate Davis. He works out with many current UW track athletes and hopes his experience can rub off on them.
The decathlon features 10 events in running, jumping, and throwing disciplines. Ziemek began experimenting in the event while he was in high school.
"My personality is I wanted to explore what my potential would be in other events and I fell in love with trying different events," he recalls. "I was a jumper. I was 5-foot-9 and maybe 110 pounds. It just fits my personality perfectly."
Outside activities for athletes are limited while they are in Tokyo. That's not a problem for Ziemek.
"My experience in Rio was not very exciting. I trained every day, rested, ate the right things. No crazy stories from Rio and I don't expect any from Tokyo. I went to Rio looking to medal, and I'm going to Tokyo with the same goal, only this time I want a shinier kind of medal."
The decathlon takes place over two days, starting Tuesday, Aug. 3.