Lolo Jones: Why Her Celebrity Status Will Hurt Her During 2012 Olympics
Jones may be one of the fastest women in the world, but her career has been filled with disappointment and failing to live up to her potential when she reaches the biggest events.
Jones was a stud while racing for LSU in college. During her time running in the SEC, Jones won three NCAA titles, six SEC titles and earned 11 All-American honors. She was expected to be the next big thing in women’s track when she graduated in 2004.
The same year of her graduation happened to be an Olympic year. Many people took notice as Jones failed to qualify for a single event for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
She even contemplated retiring from the sport and ending her career in disappointment, but was persuaded not to by longtime coach and mentor, Dennis Shaver.
When she turned professional, Jones started her career off on the right track. She finished second in her first professional meet, in Stuttgart, and then went on to have a great 2006 season. The highlight of her season came when Jones won at Heusden-Zolder with a personal best time of 12.56 seconds.
Jones had lofty expectations heading into the 2006 World Athletic Finals in Stuttgart, Germany. She was determined to make up for the disappointing finish she had during the Olympic Trials just two years prior.
Instead, she just further convinced everyone that she folds under the pressure by finishing fifth in the 100m and sixth in the 100m hurdles. The once 11-time All-American was now only ranked fourth in the United States and seventh in the world.
In 2008, Jones had a chance to redeem herself once again at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. She started off the season extremely strong, finishing in second place in Glasgow, Gothenburg and Stuttgart, and first in Dusseldorf.
She set the meet-record at Dusseldorf and a personal best time of 7.77 in the 60m hurdles in Karlsruhe. She later went on to win a national championship at the 2008 USA Indoor Championship and a world championship at the World Indoor Championship in Valencia, Spain.
It was now time for Jones to prove herself at the Olympics, where she was the heavy favorite to win the 100m hurdles. She started off great, blowing past the competition to open the race. As she was about to pull away and earn her first ever Olympic medal though, Jones clipped the ninth hurdle and stumbled.
She was never able to regain her speed and was passed by six other runners for a seventh place finish.
After the race, Jones kneeled on the ground in disbelief as her teammate, Dawn Harper, ran her victory lap. Jones spoke with the Associated Press after the race and had this to say about her performance (via ESPN.com): "It was like racing a car at max velocity. When you hit a curve, you either maintain control or you crash and burn. Today, I crashed and burned. I'm shocked and sad. But I'm happy for the girls."
You have to feel for Jones, who just can’t seem to get it together when it counts the most. Unfortunately for her, the time leading up to the 2012 Olympics is looking very similar to the lead-up to the 2008 disaster.
After recovering from a hamstring injury that kept her out for most of 2009, Jones went on to have a very successful 2010 season. She finished in first place during the World Indoor Championship for the second straight time, and appeared to be the favorite leading up to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
However, her arch nemesis, Dawn Harper, once again outshined Jones and finished first during the Olympic Trials. Jones barely qualified for the Olympic team, finishing the race in third place.
If history has anything to say about it, Lolo Jones should once again fall short of winning an Olympic medal. She may be the most popular track star on the US team, but she has definitely not been the most successful once she reaches the biggest stage, the Olympics.
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