When you think of heptathlete/hurdler Jessica Zelinka, phrases such as versatility and amazing abdominals pop to mind — so it's not for nothing that you can't spell those two without the word advertising.
Zelinka, who finished fifth in the heptathlon in Beijing and is a darkhorse medal contender behind golden rivals Tatyana Chernova and Jessica Ennis in the Aug. 3-4 heptathlon, knows what her six-pack stomach can be extrapolated to say about society, even by people who aren't aware she is a mom to a three-year-old daughter. So, from the department of "Amateur Athletes Have To Get What They Can While They Can" , the Canadian hopeful said she's willing to turn that sinewy washboard into a billboard.
From Vicki Hall:
"Who wants to own my abs?" [Zelinka] 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 mid-section. 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 [University of Calgary] 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." (Calgary Herald)
The London, Ont., native was probably being a little tongue-in-cheek, but if you got it, flaunt it. Obviously, the IOC, with its endless regulations and rules would have something to say about athletes using their bare skin as a sandwich board. The Olympics are their opportunity to shill for corporate sponsors and no one may muddy their brand. (It's amazing this front-row footy fan even got away with wearing a shirt promoting the rival of the official Olympic carbonated sugar water.
You can hardly blame Zelinka. Her rival and namesake, Jessica Ennis, pulls down $1.5 million US per year in endorsements and is Great Britain's highest-paid sportswoman. And her abs will get a lot of media exposure over the course of seven events in two days.
No doubt a lot of people would wonder how Zelinka built up that muscle group. Here is Hall, again:
"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."
(A-ha! Crunches are for suckers!)
Core strength is everything for holding up during the long grind of the heptathlon. There is so much more to Jessica Zelinka than one body part (anyone else creeped out by her hometown paper running a photo that showed her abs but cut off her head?), but it helps peel back why London 2012 is her best shot to put Canada on the podium in heptathlon for the first time.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.