Lolo Jones: Legacy of Hurdling Star After Disappointment in 100-Meter Hurdles

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIAugust 7, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07:  Lolo Jones of the United States looks on after competing in the Women's 100m Hurdles Semifinals on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 7, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Fourth place.

It's the worst place to finish in the Olympics.

For Lolo Jones, disappointment has been the story of her Olympic career as she finished in fourth place in the 100-meter hurdle final with a time of 12.58 seconds. Her finish was behind Australia's Sally Pearson (12.35), and U.S. teammates Dawn Harper (12.37) and Kellie Wells (12.48).

Words probably can't describe what Jones is feeling.

On the one hand, she ran the best race of her season, but on the other hand, she leaves her second-straight Olympics with no medal in hand. It's one of those feelings that Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang knows as well, although Xiang earned a gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

So, what is the legacy of the hurdling star?

She's 30-years old and it's unlikely that she'll compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, although I wouldn't be surprised to see her there.

The prime of most track athletes ends well before they reach their 30s, with a few exceptions. But rarely, do track athletes continue competing at such a high level in their mid-30s, which is where Jones will be come Rio.

With Olympic dreams gone, many people will sit back and critique her career, thinking what might have been.

But, one thing that stands out to me, and is something I will teach my girls when they get older is that she stood for something, even when she was criticized for it.

While athletes like Hope Solo (and others) are laughed at and celebrated for comments on the sexual promiscuity that happens in the Olympic Village, Jones gets criticized for standing up for the fact that she's going to remain a virgin until she gets married.

While some laugh at that and say it's not possible, there are others who praise her for making those comments, because it's athletes in the spotlight like her that are the role models for our children. Things they think are cool, our children are going to think are cool as well.

Regardless of what NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley says, athletes are role models for kids, whether they want to be or not.

When you have an athlete who takes pride in the sanctity of her body, and doesn't want to give away what she feels is the most precious gift she has to the first swimmer with a six-pack, I think that is the exact role model young women need to look at.

So, what will Lolo Jones' legacy be when she hangs up her spikes and exits the world track stage forever?

It will be a legacy of tragedy and triumph. One that says it's okay to be yourself and not feel you have to do something simply because "everyone else is doing it."

While Jones' legacy on the track may not be as grand as she would have hoped coming out of LSU, her legacy off the track is something that will have a bigger impact and will make a bigger difference in the lives of young girls.