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Richmond fencer secures spot in 2024 Paris Olympics

Nicholas Zhang will join Team Canada at the Summer Olympics this July.
Nicholas Zhang at the 2022 Men’s and Women’s Epee World Cup

A Richmond fencer has qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics this summer and will join Team Canada at the games.

Nicholas Zhang, an athlete from the Richmond-based Dynamo Fencing Club, will be competing in the individual men's epee fencing category at this year's Summer Olympics from July 26 to Aug. 11.

His qualification was announced after he won an overtime match in the finals of the FIE Pan American Zonal Qualification Event in San Jose, Costa Rica, this past weekend.

"In the beginning, I was in disbelief, but now after calming down a little bit, it feels pretty good," said Zhang.

The 17-year-old was born and raised in Richmond and attended Anderson elementary before moving to the North Shore to attend Sentinel secondary for its fencing program.

Zhang started fencing when he was seven years old at the Richmond Dynamo Fencing Club after being convinced by a friend to join a class for fun.

From then on, he found himself going every week and officially dedicating most of his time to the fencing club.

"As soon as I decided to go to Sentinel for the (fencing) academy program, I think that's when I started taking (fencing) really seriously," said Zhang.

Zhang said being able to compete in the Olympics has been a big dream of his and he's excited to fence in front of everyone who has supported him through his athletic journey.

"It's a once or twice-in-a-lifetime experience to fence, and to show what I can do in front of my family and friends is something I'm really excited for," he said.

Zhang told the Richmond News he's excited about walking into the stadium representing Team Canada.

"I just thought the athletes looked really cool and proud walking together as a team, as a country," said Zhang.

"I think it's pretty cool to be able to be part of that entrance walk with the large Canadian flag."

Igor Gantsevich, president of Dynamo Fencing Club, said "it's surreal" having seen Zhang walk into his first fencing class at the age of seven to now seeing him represent Canada at the Olympics.

"It is really special to be able to watch the evolution of a young kid grow into a young man in Grade 12 and competing with athletes across the world," said Gantsevich.

"Even without the Olympics, we are already super proud of him."

In addition to the announcement of Zhang's qualification for Team Canada at the Olympics, he has also been recruited by Harvard University.

Zhang told the Richmond News he has yet to decide what he will major in aside from focusing on fencing.

"I'm going to see after two years of general studies, but I was thinking about pursuing some sort of science," said Zhang.

"I'm very open to what changes may come and what I'll be interested in a few years."

For now, Zhang is preparing to fly out to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for the U17/U20 Junior World Championships.

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