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Introducing Maria and Otto Jelinek

 

When watching Barbara Ann Scott complete her medal-winning performance at the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, two of the most enthusiastic people in the audience were Henry and Jarmilla Jelinek who had traveled to every winter Olympics since their marriage in 1930.
 

After watching Barbara Ann skate, Jarmilla dreamed about how wonderful it would be to have a world champion figure skater in the family. Little did Jarmilla know that one day her dream would come true and she would have not one, but two of her children win a world skating championship.
 

Born in Prague, Otto and Maria began skating at an early age, often skating together just to hold each other up. When Otto was just 6 years old and Maria only 4, they gave their first public performance at a winter carnival in Prague.
 

Their obvious talent, sheer love of skating, and a genuine mutual respect for each other developed into a partnership that would conquer the world.
 

In 1948 Czechoslovakia’s loss became Canada’s gain when the Jelinek family escaped the post war Communist takeover of their homeland, going first to Switzerland and eventually ending up in Oakville. Otto and Maria found that the difficulty of adjusting to life in a new country was eased by their participation in sport and continued to pursue their skating dreams at the Oakville Skating Club.
 

Hard work and dedication led to their being selected to represent Canada at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, where they placed fourth. The same year they placed 2nd at the World Championships. In 1962 they returned to the country of their birth for the World Championships in Prague. To the delight of the audience, Canadians, and especially their parents, they returned home from Prague as world champions. From 1962 to ’68 they performed in the Ice Capades, and retired in 1969 after winning the World Professional Pairs Championship.
 

Both Otto and Maria have raised their families in Oakville and Otto has served as a member of parliament representing the constituents in the community in which he grew up. Otto’s ties to sport continued in his political career during his term as Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport.
 

 

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