Lolo Jones: Why Heavily-Hyped U.S. Olympic Hurdler Becomes Victim of Her Appeal
All the commercials. All the articles. All the hype.
In less than 15 seconds on a drizzly evening in London, it was all for naught.
It is not Lolo Jones' fault that we are so disappointed right now. Her true ability level had drowned in the ocean of media attention over the past few months.
In reality, Jones ran her best time of the year to place fourth in Tuesday's 100-meter hurdles competition.
The headlines will still read: "Lolo Doesn't Medal in London."
How did it get to the point where the biggest female name in USA Track and Field is that of someone who runs a season best and still doesn't medal? How many articles had been written about Dawn Harper—the defending gold medalist who finished second—as opposed to Jones?
Harper went to Beijing without a sponsor and had to borrow better-looking shoes. She won there, but she didn't become a household name. Jones did.
It's because Jones is gorgeous. It's because of her poverty-stricken childhood and her confession that staying a virgin is the hardest thing she's ever done. It's because she fell in Beijing. It's because she speaks her mind on Twitter and because a lot of us think she'd make a great spouse for Tim Tebow.
Harper was recently asked if all the attention given to Jones has been a source of frustration.
“At one point, it was. I don’t want to lie and say that it wasn’t," she said (via The Washington Post). "I have dropped to my knees and just prayed about it and said, ‘I know that I’m blessed just to be here.’"
None of the Lolo Jones articles that I or any other journalist have written over the past few months was born from the fact that she had a chance at a gold medal. She never really had a chance at all. She was the third-best qualifier out of the Olympic Trials, and she similarly finished behind the top two, Harper and Kellie Wells, in London. Her qualifying time from Eugene, Ore., would have placed her seventh in the London final.
While her Beijing performance has deservedly gone down in history as a major disappointment, her London performance will do so undeservedly. The expectations were ballooned by Jones' appeal as a person, not by her capabilities as an athlete.
It's not Lolo's fault that we're upset about fourth place. It's our fault for building her up for the wrong reasons.
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