OWN A PIECE OF THESE ABS

VICKI HALL VHALL@CALGARYHERALD.COM, 26 Jul 2012 Calgary Herald —

Twitter sale helps bring athlete’s family to London

I will give ownership of my abs. Someone out there can sponsor them JESSICA ZELINKA

Looking to ease the financial burden of competing, Jessica Zelinka says her now-famous abs are up for sponsorship An entrepreneur by necessity, Jessica Zelinka raised the money via Twitter to pay for her daughter Anika and husband Nathaniel to fly to London for the Olympics.

Jessica Zelinka shouts after winning the final of the women’s 100-metre hurdles during June’s Canadian Track and Field Championships in Calgary. She says she would be willing to give ownership of her abs to lessen the difficulty of competing without any major financial sponsors.

In a last-ditch effort to avoid raiding the family savings account, the Canadian heptathlete auctioned off her race bib from the Olympic Trials.

The University of Calgary Alumni Association checked in with the winning bid of $4,250.

That has Zelinka, a Calgarian, thinking about other ways to lessen the difficulty of competing on the world level.

“Who wants to own my abs?” she says. “I will give ownership of my abs.

“Someone out there can sponsor them.”

Zelinka, 30, speaks without a hint of vanity about her six-pack midsection. The fact of the matter is, the rest of the world obsesses about her abs — and she can’t help but hear the chatter.

Perhaps the former Dinos track star has a post-Olympic future as a personal trainer for all of us mere mortals with extra padding around the middle.

“If you Google search Jessica Zelinka, ‘Jessica Zelinka Abs’ will come up,” she sighs. “I know all about it.

“It just comes with the territory.”

Living on a shoestring budget also comes with the territory for the majority of amateur athletes in this country.

Zelinka set a new Canadian record in heptathlon last month at the Olympic Trials and qualified, against all odds, to also compete in London in the 100-metre hurdles.

All that success and still, money continues to be a daily hurdle.

And so while the idea of putting up abdominal muscles for sponsorship might sound preposterous — well, every little bit helps.

Especially considering that Zelinka’s husband Nathaniel Miller, a 2008 Olympian in water polo, put his own career on hold to help care for their three-year-old daughter, Anika.

“It’s different, because we’re not a typical family,” she says. “Nathaniel was an athlete, and he stepped back from that and he took jobs that would allow him to be flexible to support me.

“But we’re comfortable with our decision.”

Through it all, Zelinka has allowed herself to become comfortable with the public fascination with her abs.

And yes, she did indeed give birth to Anika three years ago.

“People say: where do those abs come from,” says coach Les Gramantik. “You would be surprised how little ab work we really do.

“We throw a lot of medicine balls. Do movement patterns. We’re not sitting here doing crunches to get her six-packs out here. It’s not essential.”

In fact, ab work didn’t even factor into training sessions for at least a year after Anika was born.

“Coming back from pregnancy, the biggest thing we couldn’t do is abs,” Gramantik says.

“The abdominal floor is really challenged through the pregnancy, so we really didn’t do any abs. We just did some hanging abs with leg raises and things like that.”

The seven-sport extravaganza of heptathlon involves 200-metre and 800-metre runs, 100-metre hurdles, shot put, javelin throw, high jump, long jump and the women’s individual 100-metre hurdles. So overall fitness is key.

In the wake of her dominant performance at the Olympic trials, some reporters went as far as calling Zelinka the fittest woman in Canada.

“When I see those things, I laugh,” she says. “I think it’s funny how the media fabricates this stuff all of a sudden. I laugh, because I’ve been doing heptathlon for all these years, and I’ve had these abs for how many years — and all of a sudden, I’m the fittest woman going to the Olympics.

“I don’t see it as pressure at all. I think it’s funny.”

Gramantik, for one, isn’t laughing.

“I wish I could, but I don’t disagree with the statement,” he says.

“Look at her, she’s extremely fit. Without trying to challenge other sports, you might get away with a few extra pounds in bobsled — or you have to. You might get away with a few extra pounds in horseback riding.

“But there’s no room for not being fit here.”

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2 Responses to OWN A PIECE OF THESE ABS

  1. Brilliant idea! Good luck in your competition! All of Canada is with you!!!!

  2. Zelinka is definitely one of the fittest athletes in the world. If I had abs like hers I would never put on my shirt. Seriously, I would go to work and be like “Yeah, baby. Check these out!”

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