This past Saturday, Jul. 16, 2022, Kingston’s Xavier Olasz won a silver medal in the men’s pommel horse event at the 2022 Junior Pan American Gymnastics Championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Olasz finished the competition with a score of 12.300, behind Colombia’s Keynher Camilo Vera, who scored 12.550 en route to a gold medal victory. Rounding out the podium was the United States’ Frederick Richard, who took home the bronze after scoring 12.250.
Saturday’s silver medal result marked Olasz’s second podium finish of the Championship, after the athlete contributed to Canada’s second-place result in the junior men’s all-around team event. “So proud of this team! Canada ended up finishing second as a team in Brazil. Definitely a competition to remember,” Olasz said in a post to Instagram, following the men’s all-around team event.
For his contributions to the all-around, Olasz finished with an individual score of 74.750, making him the highest-scoring Canadian athlete.
Olasz competes out of Kingston’s Loyalist Gymnastics Club and is coached by former Canadian gymnastics champion Alexander (Sasha) Jeltkov. “Competition in Rio was great. Our team took a silver medal in a team event! Everyone was focused [and] worked hard together and the competition was very intense, fun and exciting until the last event,” said Jeltkov.
With a strong performance in Rio, Olasz capped off a successful 2021-22 season; in May, the Kingston native was crowned the all-around champion in the 16-18 age group at the 2022 Canadian Gymnastics Championships. With the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics just two years away, Olasz will be one to watch as he looks to qualify for his first Olympic competition.
Winning two medals during his time in Rio made Olasz a big contributing factor to Team Canada’s successes throughout the competition. In the artistic gymnastics portion of the event, Canada finished in fifth place, taking home 12 medals. Overall, Canada added an additional seven medals to its tally, picking up five podium finishes in the rhythmic competition, as well as two medals in the trampoline events.
The Pan American Gymnastics Championship is the major continental championship for the Americas, with countries from North, Central, and South America, as well as the Caribbean, competing on the same stage. This year’s championship featured competitions at both the senior and junior levels.
In total, Team USA finished atop the medal standings with 56 podium finishes, including an impressive 26 golds. Host team Brazil finished the event in second place with 41 medals. Meanwhile, Canada’s haul of 19 medals was good enough for seventh place in the overall standings.
Up next for Olasz, coach Jeltkov said “we will take a couple of weeks off and get back to training for the next year. Xavier will be competing at [the] Junior level again, as he is still only 16-17 years old. We are looking forward to continuing being a top Canadian Junior [and adding] more difficulty to the routines on every event.
“There will be two big events next season, Canada Winter Games and [the] Junior world championships. So, Xavier will have a great chance to compete in those two events.”