Jessica Zelinka: higher, faster, stronger at Smith

Posted on January 31, 2018

Two-time Olympian Jessica Zelinka, MMIE'18.
Two-time Olympian Jessica Zelinka, MMIE'18.

More than 1,200 Canadian Olympic Committee athletes are eligible to enroll at Smith School of Business over eight years as part of a partnership between COC and Smith. One of them is two-time Olympian Jessica Zelinka.

Kingston, ON – Jessica Zelinka says she enrolled in Queen’s Master of Management Innovation & Entrepreneurship program in part because she finds the team environment similar to athletics.

“The faculty, students and network are my new support team that will enable me to ‘go for it’ knowing failure is a part of the journey, just like in track, and it's about resilience.”

Jessica, 36, aims to launch her own business following a long and impressive track-and-field career. A former Canadian record holder in the heptathlon, Jessica competed at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, finishing 5th in the heptathlon in Beijing, and 7th in the heptathlon and 6th in the 100m hurdles in London. She also won gold in the heptathlon at the 2007 Pan Am Games and twice earned silver at the Commonwealth Games.

The heptathlon — seven events, from javelin throwing to hurdles — is described as among the most gruelling of Olympic events. Physically it’s a grind, yes, Jessica says, but mentally and emotionally it’s even tougher.

“It’s a roller coaster. You might have had a bad hurdle run but you have to put your head down and clear your mind for the next event. You have to be able to compartmentalize, switch roles and leave the bad behind.”

Sounds like the skills every great business leader needs, too.