By: Kaitlyn Clark
Christian Zelenco, a 16 year old boxer hailing from Crystal Beach, Ontario, may only have 10 bouts to her name, but she is a 2x Canadian Champion and was also recently named as the flag-bearer for Team Canada at the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games in Bahamas, which begin tomorrow, Wednesday July 19, 2017.
This past Saturday, I had the chance to sit down with her and get the inside scoop on what it takes to be an international level boxer, while simultaneously balancing high school and a normal teenage life.
While most teenagers spend their time being at school, working a part-time job, and hanging out with friends, the life of a high-performance athlete calls for an entirely different routine: “I would usually wake up, sometimes around 5am, go for a run, shower, and then I would go to my strength trainer and train with him for about an hour. Then I would go home, shower, and go to school. During my first period class at school I had fitness and my teacher was incredible! She just kind of said ‘Christian do what you need to do’. So, if I had the energy I would do another workout and if I didn’t, I would do some recovery, visualization, and mental preparation.” Christian said.
And that is only the start of her day. After a tough day at school - working hard to maintain straight A’s - Christian heads home to get ready to sit on a bus for 2 hours and 45 minutes each night in order to get to her boxing club, Napper’s Boxing Club, in Welland, Ontario. “I have a car now, but before I had a car I had to take busses to training because both my parents were at work; my mom would pick me up from the gym, but getting to the gym was awful. I would get home from school at about 2:40pm, I had to catch one bus at 3:30pm, I would go to Fort Erie on that bus by 4:15pm, catch another bus at 4:40pm to go to Niagara Falls, and then I would catch another bus at 5:00pm and go from Niagara Falls to Welland, and would get there for 6:00pm.” Christian shared.
This long journey is one she reflects on often in order to remain focused and increase her confidence levels before a competition, and with that dedication, there is no doubt that Christian has the drive to accomplish her goals. In fact, when asked to describe herself in 15 seconds, she is all about the boxing: “My name is Christian Zelenco. I’m a perfectionist, I’m passionate, I’m a boxer – I love boxing, and I have a very deep desire to be an incredible boxer and to be an Olympian.”
Having previously competed at a World Championships as a kick boxer, Christian knows the drive it takes to get to the top and she remains humble through every opportunity which comes her way – stating that it is an honour to have been chosen to be the flag-bearer for Team Canada at the Youth Commonwealth Games and to be given the opportunity to represent females in Canada, as well as female boxers (and boxers in general) world-wide. She is an excellent role model for others as she not only aspires to be an Olympian, but also has aspirations to become a lawyer, along with a plan to pursue her University education part-time, while still focusing on her boxing career.
Without a doubt, Christian is looking forward to showing the world that she is proud to be a female representing Canada: “I am a female, I am young, I’m tiny, but I am holding this flag and I am here to represent my country. I am here because I earned it and I deserve to be here”.
STING Canada is wishing all the boxers competing at the Youth Commonwealth Games the best of luck and we look forward to sharing the amazing results which are sure to come for Christian Zelenco and the rest of Team Canada!
About the Author
Kaitlyn Clark is a 24 year old, amateur boxer, federal government employee with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, avid juggler, and professional wrestling geek. She has a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Finance and a Minor in French Linguistics from Carleton University; but her real passion is analyzing and writing about Olympic style boxing. You can check her and her cats out on Instagram and Twitter.
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