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Canadian men’s gymnastics team wins four medals at University of Calgary International Cup

Veterans Ken Ikeda of Abbotsford, B.C. and Scott Morgan of Vancouver led the way for the Canadian team with silver medals on parallel bars and rings while Jackson Payne of Edmonton and Sam Zakutney of Ottawa won bronze on pommel horse and high bar.

A powerhouse U.S. team won five of six individual gold medals up for grabs while China prevented a clean sweep for the Americans with a victory in the vault final.

After the competition national men’s team director Tony Smith of Calgary named his seven-man team, including one reserve, for the Olympic qualifier.

Joining Ikeda, Morgan, Payne and Zakutney on the Rio-bound team are Anderson Loran of Saskatoon, Rene Cournoyer of Repentigy, Que., and Hugh Smith of Halifax.

“This is a very different team going to Rio than I was expecting,” said Smith. “It’s been a real ordeal with all the injuries we’ve had, but these guys have stepped up and have improved as a team in many ways.”

“We tend to look on the bright side, but still it’s going to be a difficult challenge to get that Olympic berth.”

Among others, injuries have knocked out five-time world championship veteran Kevin Lytwyn of Stoney Creek, Ont., and most recently Mathieu Csukassy of Montreal who tore a patella tendon on Friday in the team competition.

Zakutney, the 2015 Elite Canada junior all-around champion, was slated to compete at the Pacific Rim Championships in April, but now finds himself gearing up for the Olympic qualifier in what will be the biggest competition of his career.

“I’m very excited,” said Zakutney. “I wasn’t focusing on the Olympic qualification event at all since I had already been picked for the Pacific Rim event, but now I feel more motivated than ever. I just want to get back to the training gym and work even harder.”

The Olympic qualification meet for artistic gymnastics will take place April 16-18.

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