Zachery 'Zach' Ziemek, representing in Paris Olympics a taste of Modena Appennines emigration to US

Jul 01, 2024 188

BY: Giuliano Pasquesi

The Modena Apennines in Emilia Romagna will be represented, albeit indirectly, at the now upcoming Paris Olympics. Indeed, on the U.S. Decathlon team will be a descendant on his mother's side of the Pasquesi lineage from Pievepelago. He is 31-year-old Zachery 'Zach' Ziemek, born in Itasca (Illinois), son of Victoria Pasquesi and grandson of Anthony Pasquesi also a valuable athlete.

Zach in recent days at the U.S. Trials earned qualification for the Paris 2024 Games, finishing second. This will be his third Olympics, after finishing sixth at the Tokyo 2021 event and seventh at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 event, also in the Decathlon, with a bronze medal at the 2022 World Championships in Oregon also to his credit.

From the U.S., genealogy scholar Loredana Annalita Manfredini reports that Zach's grandfather was Anthony Pasquesi (son of pievarolo Adolfo Pasquesi 1901/1947, grandson of Antonio Pasquesi and Celeste Poli) who was successful as an American football player-athlete, first at the prestigious University of Notre Dame and then in the 1950s at the professional level on the Chicago Cardinals (now Chicago Bears) team.

Mom Victoria had written that Grandpa Anthony, who was already ill in 2016, held out to watch his grandson compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics, dying shortly thereafter. Zach will compete Aug. 1 and 2 at the Olympic Games in Paris in the ten events of the Decathlon specialty with such worthy opponents as defending Olympic champion Damian Warner of Canada. Known as "Double Z," Zack Ziemek said he is not upset or surprised about his qualification for his third Olympics.

"I think my family and everyone around me is really more excited about this than I am," he told the press from his home near Madison, Wisconsin, where he continues to train. "I'm still very excited about going to the Games, with the goal of winning a medal.''

Married almost five years to former Wisconsin 1,500-meter runner Victoria Paulson; Ziemek often says "we" when referring to his accomplishments, including four individual state titles in 2010 and 2011. What he calls his team-his wife, parents Rick Ziemek and Victoria Pasquesi, and family and friends-were all at the recent Trials to cheer him on to his third Olympics, celebrating his goal. Zack has persevered despite injuries such as a ruptured hamstring at the 2019 U.S. Championships and a dislocated joint capsule in his left foot at the 2023 World Track and Field Championships.

Now he returns to the great Olympic limelight, bringing with him a corner of the Apennines of Modena. 

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