Name: Jessica Anne Zelinka
Family ancestry: Father’s side: Hungarian; Mother’s side: Croatian. The name “Zelinka” has Czech roots.
Date of birth: September 3, 1981
Birthplace/Hometown: London, ONT
Residence: Calgary, AB
Height: 176 cm
Weight: 64 kg
Languages spoken: English, French (I try)
Hobbies: I love DIY home decorating projects ideas, but have yet to find the time to do them.
Rituals: When I travel, I try to find a Christmas ornament from each country I go to. Each year we get to reminisce about all the travel stories as we decorate our international Christmas tree.
Quote I like: “Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it!”
(photo: Ewan Nicholson)
My husband, Nathaniel Miller, and I have a daughter Anika. Anika was born May 29, 2009. Nathaniel also competed at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, on the Canadian men’s water polo team.
My parents are Marianne and Richard Zelinka. They weren’t superstar athletes, but superstar bench warmers (which means they’re great supporters!). I grew up in London, Ontario with two older sisters, Andrea and Deanna (who also did track and field growing up, as well as at the university and national team levels).
Jessica (grade 4) competes in City Olympiad
My family in Beijing 2008
Jessica and Nathanial at Beijing Olympics
I tried all the events for the 1st time on “track and field day” in grade 4 and I’ve been hooked ever since. I use to go to the library and look up long jump techniques at the age of 9, and jumped over garbage pails in the backyard before I was old enough to compete in the hurdles. Some kids play street hockey growing up, I would practice using blocks in front of my house. I joined a track club by grade 7 (distance running and long jump). Started competing in combined events by age 14. My first big international competition was the 2000 World Juniors Championships, where I placed 5th and broke the Canadian Junior Record. My first Olympics were the 2008 Beijing Games were I broke the Canadian Senior record and placed 5th with a score of 6490 pts. In the 2012 London Olympic Games I had the opportunity of competing in both the heptathlon and 100m hurdles where I placed 7th in both events. My current Canadian Record is 6599 pts from the 2012 Olympic Trials held in Calgary.
My Aunt Darlene was my biggest inspiration to pursue track and field. She was a track and field coach in Timmins, in Northern Ontario, and so from a distance she become very involved and supportive and a mentor to me. She taught me to take risks, and to keep my head up and keep my sights on my dreams, no matter what. She opened the door for me to realize my potential by encouraging me to reach for the stars.
More about Nathaniel and Jessica > (from U of C Alumni article)
photo credits: Ewan Nicholson, Zelinka family