Former Badgers track and field athlete talks about winning bronze at World Championships

MADISON, Wis. — Former University of Wisconsin-Madison track and field athlete Zach Ziemek recently earned a bronze medal at the 2022 World Championships in the decathlon. The competition was held at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, far from where he was training.

Ziemek, a decorated athlete, took on the World Championships, competing in the 10-part decathlon event. Across two days, he competed in (in order) a 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and a 1500-meter run.

“I look at track and I love track and decathlon because it has made me a better person, so when I am done with this I know I turned into the person I am today because of this sport,” Ziemek said.

Ziemek was sitting between the silver and gold medals for the decathlon event, and with all efforts, he earned the bronze medal.

“Most of the time in the decathlon you kind of know where you’re sitting at… points-wise, so I knew that if I was to beat (a Canadian peer) by (the) second half, I would have silver, otherwise bronze. So it was just kind of putting everything out there and hoping I can get to silver, and I just came up a little short, so it happens,” Ziemek said.

He finished the competition with a personal best of 8,676 points overall, which is a huge accomplishment on his own.

Although the competition was held in Oregon, Ziemek spent his time training locally, with time shared between the UW-Madison facilities as well as Verona High School with his coach Nate Davis.

“I train at UW still, this is going to be my twelfth year coming in, so I am around a lot of those kids still so it’s pretty cool that I talk to them and they’re my friends, the guys and the girls, so it’s pretty cool that I can give a little bit of advice to them if they need it,” Ziemek said.

“To know my career is still going in that direction and I can maybe be a face for some of those younger kids too, it’s pretty special,” he added.

Following last month’s competition, Ziemek is back home spending time with family, but he plans to start up his training again within the next couple of days. He is able to spend his time off celebrating with those around him who support him.

“There’s so many people that I have thanked and they know. It’s hard to thank everyone, but I have a lot of special people who support me so it is very cool,” he said.

Ziemek isn’t done yet, though; despite his amazing accomplishment at Hayward Field, he is still pushing even further.

“We were deciding if we wanted to continue the season, there was some opportunity in Europe (but) we decided that it was a little risky just because this next Worlds is in August and it’s crazy to think the next Olympics is two years away,” he said.

The next Olympic Games will be held in 2024 in Paris, where Ziemek does plan on competing.