When alumna and Canadian heptathlon and hurdling champion Jessica Zelinka takes aim at an Olympic medal in London later this week, she’ll have her family and her country cheering for her, and special support from the University of Calgary Alumni Association.
Zelinka’s 2012 Canadian Track and Field Trials race bib was auctioned on Twitter last week to raise money to send her husband, fellow University of Calgary graduate Nathaniel Miller, and their daughter, Anika, to London. When the auction concluded, the University of Calgary Alumni Association stood beside Zelinka with the winning bid in hand.
“Jessica is a very special alumna, a former Dino, and a serious medal contender in London,” said University of Calgary Alumni Association President Ken McKinnon. “This was a tremendous chance to support one of our own alumni and her family. The Alumni Association is behind Jessica all the way. We’re so proud of her.”
Zelinka’s first Olympic quest was Beijing in 2008 when she finished fifth in the world in the heptathlon. The chance to pursue her Olympic dreams came true yet again this past Canada Day weekend with a Canadian heptathlon title and national record, as well as a 12.68-second first-place finish in a world-class 100-metre hurdles field to qualify for both events in London.
"I wanted the community to get behind this auction," said Zelinka. "I was so glad the Alumni Association saw the opportunity to step in and support me. It's so fitting and it means a lot."
Zelinka's competition begins Aug. 3 in the two-day heptathlon, with the 100-metre hurdles to be held a few days later on Aug. 6 and 7.
She'll have a busy schedule, but Zelinka is excited to share the Olympic experience with her family, especially her young daughter.
"I can't wait to see their faces," she said.
The Alumni Association and entire University of Calgary community will be rooting her on from home.
The University of Calgary Alumni Association is committed to building a rich and vibrant support network amongst graduates of the University of Calgary. For more information, please www.ucalgary.ca/alumni.