Lolo Jones Is Pushing For Gold On A New Track

by Dan Reiner

Lolo Jones is the most independent, beautiful, witty woman I have never met.

She’s never won an Olympic medal, a World Outdoor Championship or even the key to a man’s heart, and that fact alone has garnered her the publicity of a Usain Bolt and spite from track fans equivalent to Tony Romo or Tim Tebow in the NFL.

Most of the dislike stems from public comments from Jones about her devout faith, her online dating requests to celebrities and Twitter followers, and especially her open statements about her virginity.

What her haters seem to constantly overlook is that Jones is a two-sport US Olympian in both track & field and bobsled.

The argument has been made thousands of times: “she’s all talk and no game – she doesn’t deserve the attention.”

Here’s a shortened look at Jones’ track career:

  • 2008: Beijing Olympics – favored to win gold medal, hits 9th hurdle (of 10) with the lead, and finishes 7th
  • 2009: Missed most of the season due to injuries
  • 2010: Wins 2nd straight Indoor World Championship gold medal in 60m hurdles
  • 2011: More injuries keep her out of World Championships
  • 2012: London Olympics – finishes 4th in 100m hurdle final
  • 2013: Failed to qualify for World Championship team

Failures and missed opportunities abound. There’s obviously a ton that lies behind each of those stories – like the fact that a severe spinal problem likely caused her to hit that 9th hurdle in the Olympic final, or the deep depression that ensued after that event – but clipping a hurdle doesn’t mean you fall down for good.

Jones fought through the mental and physical pain of two Olympics-sized failures, by her standards, and kept going. At 31-years-old, she may be at the tail end of her peak in track & field, but that doesn’t mean she can’t remain competitive.

She wanted one more try at that elusive Olympic medal, so in mid-2013, she convinced fellow track sprinter Lauryn Williams (who already owns 2 Olympic medals) to try bobsledding as push athletes. The base formula is there: sprinters are explosive out of the blocks and form is crucial to their craft. Push athletes basically serve the same function as the leadoff leg of a sprint relay on the track, pushing the team out of the gate with fury before hopping into the back of the sled and strategically centering their weight down the ice course.

After a successful bobsled season in which they each won several medals for Team USA, Jones, Williams, and Aja Evans were selected from a pool of six athletes to represent the United States in Sochi.

Jones and Williams become just the ninth and tenth Americans to ever compete in both the summer and winter Olympics. Think about the age of American athletics that we live in, where athlete training and performance is almost completely controlled by coaches and statistics, and then re-read that statement.

Do you think it was easy for them to do that? Jones went from weighing 130 pounds in summer 2013 to 160 pounds in early 2014, and she’s gone on record saying she consumes around 9,000(!) calories per day to maintain that weight. Imagine switching from a sport you’ve perfected for years and simply picking up a completely different sport [on ice, no less!] and making the Olympic team for that sport in about six months. It takes an incredible amount of determination, focus, and patience to do that.

What she has accomplished in just six years is simply amazing (I’ll note that her entire life has been pretty difficult, and I encourage you to take a look at her life story. ESPN Films did a documentary called “Lolo” that I would highly recommend). Sadly, it’s hard for many Americans to look past the over-publicized faith and virginity of an attractive, athletic woman. Her exuberant personality won’t go away, and I hope it never does. At the same time, she has matured enough over the years to tune out the negativity because she knows what she wants and she’s going for it, and you have to respect that.

Jones posted this to her Facebook after it was announced that she made the team:

“Had I not hit a hurdle in Beijing I would not have tried to go to London to redeem myself. Had I not got fourth in London I would not have tried to find another way to accomplish the dream.

Bobsled was my fresh start.
Bobsled humbled me.
Bobsled made me stronger.
Bobsled made me hungry.
Bobsled made me rely on faith.
Bobsled gave me hope.

I push a bobsled but bobsled pushed me to never give up on my dreams.”

The dream is real Lolo, and a nation of 314 million in red, white and blue is here to watch you capture it.

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