Coach Les Gramantik says Zelinka hasn't ruled out competing in hurdles in London | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Coach Les Gramantik says Zelinka hasn't ruled out competing in hurdles in London

Jessica Zelinka of London, Ont., competes in the high jump during the heptathlon event at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 27, 2012.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

CALGARY - Canadian heptathlete Jessica Zelinka hasn't completely ruled out racing the hurdles at the London Olympics, says her coach Les Gramantik.

The Canadian record-holder in the heptathlon is also the country's second fastest female hurdler this season, boasting a time that is world class.

She's competing in both events at the Canadian Olympic track and field trials this week. She is one of six women in a jam-packed hurdles field who has achieved the Olympic qualifying standard in that event.

"I'll talk to her, right now honestly it has to be a very interesting decision to do a hurdles race in London as well as heptathlon," Gramantik said.

Zelinka overcame chilly, blustery conditions to run 12.76 seconds in the hurdles on Day 1 of the heptathlon Tuesday, matching the time she ran last month to win the Harry Jerome Classic in Burnaby, B.C. The only Canadian faster is Olympic bronze medallist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, whose 12.64 is fifth-fastest in the world this year.

The opening round of the hurdles in London is two days after the heptathlon ends.

"It's not impossible but they are hard runs and many races," Gramantik said. "Here she could probably qualify (for London) with a 13.0-seconds run, but you're not going to get out of the semifinals or quarter-finals in London with 13 seconds.

"But the other thing, the rest of the world isn't running very fast. The U.S. trials was won in 12.77, slower than her time here."

Gramantik said he and Zelinka, a six-time Canadian heptathlon, will decide after Saturday's hurdles final whether to double in London. Athletics Canada will name its London team on Sunday morning.

"I'm not trying to build any suspense, 'Oh, what's it going to be?' Really, we don't know," said the veteran multi-events coach. "If things go well and she does really well here, I'll be happy to have the two (hurdles) races, and close the book on hurdles for this year."

Only three Canadian hurdlers can compete in London. The other women who have achieved the qualifying standard are 10-time Canadian champion Perdita Felicien, Angela Whyte, Phylicia George and Nikkita Holder.

Felicien, who trains with Zelinka in Calgary, joked about her training partner's recent rise up the hurdles ranks at the opening news conference Tuesday.

"The field is the deepest its ever been," Felicien said. "And thanks Jessica for joining the fray."

Gramantik hasn't been surprised by Zelinka's fast hurdles times this season.

"She's always had superb abilities as a hurdler," Gramantik said. "She could have been a world-class hurdler if she chose to, if that event wasn't so boring. . . one event is boring in her mind, she likes to do a lot of different things (the heptathlon is seven events), otherwise she could have been very successful in hurdles too."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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