Jessica Zelinka

In the News: Zelinka Shares Amazing Race

London Olympian to co-host a "learn-to-sprint" geared to all ages.

Written by Hailey Salvian

The London Free Press (article and video), August 2nd, 2016


Fresh off not qualifying for what would have been her last Olympics, two-time Olympian Jessica Zelinka is making her return to the track on Thursday, but in a different role than the one to which she was accustomed.

Zelinka, 34, a London-native, is teaming up with Western Mustangs sprint coach Derrick Johnston to host SprintFit, a two-session, learn-to-sprint clinic for all ages and experience levels.

Zelinka, whose marquee event was the heptathlon, said she will not be training for another Olympic cycle, instead giving her time to reconnect with the London community and test the waters of being a track and field coach.

“I’m sitting in this in-between state. I’m in denial this is the end of my career, but excited I get to start a new journey, but still clinging onto what I loved for so long,” said the sprinter and heptathlete.

“That’s why I want to do these camps because it will allow me to explore different things like coaching, being a leader in my community and sharing the knowledge I’ve gained from doing track and field for so long.”

Last month, Zelinka competed in a last-chance meet in England to try to qualify for Rio. After coming up short, she sought refuge at her cottage to deal with the emotional fallout. But it wasn’t long before she had an urge to return to the track, where she came up with the idea to host a sprint clinic. “I saw these guys jog one lap of the track and then start sprinting. You could tell they wanted to be better, but they had no knowledge on how to do it properly,” said Zelinka, who has been approached on many occasions by people wanting to learn how to sprint.

“For the first time in a while I (am back in London) and don’t need to train and now I can go out in the community and see people. This is exactly where I wanted to start camps, London is where it all began for me.”

At this Thursday’s clinic, Zelinka and Johnston will teach the fundamentals of a proper warmup, the mechanics of sprinting and how to train properly and prevent injury. The first clinic is on Thursday and the second is a week later on Aug. 11. Each session is 90 minutes.

Zelinka is adamant that the clinics are for everyone, not just runners or athletes.

“All sports use sprinting as cross-training. Even if you just want to look good, (you should join,) if you want to look like an athlete, you need to train like an athlete,” she said. “It’s supposed to be fun, too, a chance to try something different, or something that scares you. We will take care of (everyone).”

Later this month, Zelinka will team up with former professional golfer Andrew Parr to run the Stardust Performance Camp on Aug. 20 and 21 at Western. The camp will focus on training, nutrition and mental preparation.

Though Zelinka is disappointed to not be in Rio, she’s relishing being in London.

“I moved away in 2002 and still feel so welcomed here,” she said. “Whenever I go to the track I have to spend the first hour just saying hi to everyone. Track in London is such a vibrant community, TD Stadium is always buzzing and people are working hard at every level.”

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