When it comes to boasting Olympic-level athletes qualifying to participate in the elite games, the University of Michigan can name many. This year, one such athlete is Zach Burns, a returning sophomore and an Ann Arbor native, who has been selected to represent the United States on the 2016 Paralympic Rowing Team this September.
Burns will join four others from around the country to compete in the Legs, Trunk and Arms Four with Coxswain event. He is among seven US Para-Rowing Team athletes who will make up three different crews at the Rio de Janeiro games.
“I’m very excited to represent the United States at the games. It is a tremendous honor and very humbling. I hope that my performance will display the excellence of the U.S. Para-Rowing program and it’s continued growth,” Burns says in a recent Recreational Sports article.
Burns is a member of the Club Sports Men’s Rowing Team at U of M who earned its ninth straight ACRA national championship in 2016, and last year he earned a gold medal as part of Team USA in the paralympic world championship.
The Olympic Paralympic team was selected following qualifiers held in Boston, Mass., and a performance at the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team Trials in April.
Burns is not new to accomplishing championships. While attending Skyline High School, he won a silver medal in the legs, trunk and arms mixed four with coxswain event at the 2014 and 2015 World Rowing Championships. In addition, he earned the men’s 66kg four at the 2014 Canadian Secondary School Regatta and made the finals at the 2014 USRowing Youth National Championships in the men’s lightweight four.
According to his profile on the US Rowing Team website, Burns began rowing because he was interested in attaining a high level of fitness and he likes the work ethic the sport requires. His teammates are the most influential people in his sporting career because they influence him by pushing him to work hard.
“Overall, (rowing) has had a very positive impact on my life. I’ve learned that perseverance is important in order to gain success, whether it be in rowing or in school,” he says.