Lolo Jones has long been considered one of the best female track and field athletes in the United States. But she has yet to succeed in securing a medal in Olympic competition. After adding the sport of bobsledding to her impressive resume, Jones was hoping to finally break through and end her Olympic medal drought at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
But it seems like capturing that elusive medal will elude Jones once again.
Acting as the brakeperson for United States 3, Jones and her partner, driver Jazmine Fenlator, were unable to put together impressive runs in their first two turns down the slippery track. Their combined time of 1:56:73 leaves them in 11th place, a full two seconds behind the pace set by fellow Americans Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams.
Jones and Fenlator would near a near-miracle in order to find themselves on the medal podium. With two runs left on Wednesday they can certainly close the gap but not nearly enough for Jones to finally achieve her dreams of having a medal of any kind draped around her neck.
Jones broke through in the world of track and field as a hurdling specialist, capturing multiple NCAA titles in the 60-meter and 100-meter hurdles during her collegiate career at Louisiana State University. She also won the world indoor title in the 60M hurdles from 2007 to 2009.
When the 2008 Summer Olympics came around, Jones was considered a favorite to win the 100M hurdles. She was well on her way in the finals with a sizable lead over the rest of the field when she clipped the ninth of 10 hurdles, causing her to stumble and finish in seventh place.
Jones would get another chance four years later. After qualifying in third place in the U.S. trials, Jones won her qualifying heat in the London Olympics and qualified in the semifinal heat as well. But she would again face disappointment in the finals, finishing fourth with a time of 12.58 seconds.
This time, Jones would put her focus on the Winter Olympics in the pursuit of her dream. Taking on a new sport, bobsledding seemed like a natural for Jones. The brakeperson is instrumental in getting the sled off to a strong running start, and with Jones’ track and field experience, it seemed like United States 3 would have an extra edge at Sochi.
Jones faced a considerable amount of backlash when she was named to the bobsledding team last year, with many outraged that a relative newcomer would be named over other competitors who had spent years training for the sport.
Undaunted, Jones pushed on, saying that her only goal was to help her team win.
“My job is the same as it’s always been,” said Jones. “I want to go to the Olympics and I want to win a medal. That goal has never changed.
“If I have to take a whole bunch of crazy bad Twitter replies or hate mail or [people] saying I get more publicity, I don’t care. For that 1 percent that I inspire who say, ‘Man, she came so close to a medal so many times and she didn’t give up, instead she’s found a new way to go after her goal,’ it was all worth it.”
She will likely face even more criticism with her team’s disappointing showing in their first two runs on Tuesday. And for Jones, her Olympic heartache will continue.