After earning attention at Sundance, the 11-minute documentary Zion premiered on Netflix on Aug. 10. It tells the inspiring story of young athlete Zion Clark, who was born without legs due to caudal regression syndrome and spent much of his childhood moving from foster home to foster home. His one constant was wrestling, which he worked at until he excelled. Part of his senior year was captured for the documentary short, but where is Zion Clark now?
After graduating from Massillon Washington High School in Ohio, Clark went on to attend Kent State Tuscarawas in New Philadelphia. According to an article on the college's site, he's studying business management in addition to continuing to pursue athletics. With a 33-15 record at Massillon, it's no surprise that Clark would have landed a spot on the Kent State Tuscarawas Golden Eagles team. He's also ranked eighth in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.
Clark credited wrestling with inspiring him in basically every facet of his life. Wrestling in college was one of his goals, but he also wants to become a national wrestling champion. "The obstacles I face in wrestling prepare me for everyday life," he told the Kent State website. "Wrestling teaches me patience and persistence."
In addition to wrestling, Clark has developed a new skill for track. He was cheering on his sister at a state track meet in Columbus when the chair for the Paralympics suggested he give wheelchair racing a try. Though he noted that the chair was "difficult to master" at first, with the help of his coach he pushed through until he succeeded. Clark became the fastest racer in the state and won two titles in 2016 for 100 and 400 meters. He also came in third in the 800 meter and the shot put. While zipping around the track, Clark can reach up to 20 miles per hour.
Following his success at racing, Clark qualified to join the track team of the Paralympic Nationals at UCLA — and he's looking to take home some serious Olympic honors. "I'm knocking-on-the-door really close," he said of being selected to the U.S. Olympic team. "I want to be an Olympic gold medalist — I want the gold."
It seems like nothing will stand in Clark's way, with his wrestling coach Dave Schlarb praising his determination and positivity. "He has a can-do attitude that never waivers," Schlarb said to Kent State. "He is a remarkable team player that is willing to do anything needed to help the team succeed."
Clark's life motto is "no excuses," which he also has tattooed on his back. The saying emerged during one of his high school wrestling matches, when a blow to the face had him fearing that he wouldn't be able to continue. But his coach Gil Donahue told him, "You made it this far, you have to keep doing your job. Don't give me any excuses."
Clark went on to win despite the complications of his injury, and turned the match into one that was impossible to forget. "I went back on the mat, and when [his opponent] jumped over me again, I caught him in midair and put him down on the mat," Clark said. The "no excuses" credo carried through to Clark's college days, where it continues to keep him on his path.
It seems like Clark has continued to work hard after the events of Zion and has exceeded his already-impressive efforts. "My wrestling is on a whole different level," Clark told CantonRep.com. "If I were to wrestle myself from high school, I'd probably beat myself up pretty bad."
Zion Clark has already accomplished a lot, but it looks like this is just the beginning for him.