Jelena Jelessina began her career as a third party at the Junior European Championships 1987. 1988 she won silver at the World Junior Championships, in 1989 she became European Junior Champion.
In 1990, she won at the Goodwill Games in Seattle and found there their personal best of 2.02 meters on. At the European Championships in 1990, she won bronze with 1.96 meters. In 1991 it was at 1.98 meters Second World Championships in Tokyo behind Heike Henkel. In 1992, she was at the European Indoor Championships with a third party 1.94 meters. The medals she won up to this point for the Soviet Union or for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Because of injuries and because of the birth of her son Jelena Jelessina was then some years not at this championships.
In 1998 she came - now starting for Russia - and sat up where she left off in 1992. It was again with 1.94 meters at the European Indoor Championships third parties. At the 1999 World Championships, she won with 1.99 meters silver behind the same height Inha Babakowa (UKR ).
At the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, she won the high jump with 2.01 meters Olympic gold at the same level to the second-placed Hestrie Cloete (RSA ).
In 2003, she jumped 2.02 meters in the hall and thus equaled her personal (outdoor ) Best from 1990. The Indoor World Championships 2003, she was 1.99 meters second behind Kajsa Bergqvist (SWE )
At a height of 1.83 m her competition weight was 64 kg.