It's pretty amazing to compete at the Olympic level in one sport. It's quite another to attempt to compete in a second sport. And when you make the complete shift from the Summer to Winter Games, well, that's the most impressive feat of all.
The United States team, including Olympic 100-meter hurdler Lolo Jones, won gold Sunday in the combined bobsled-skeleton team event at the world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Jones was brakewoman for Elana Meyers in the women's bobsled portion of an event that also added times in two-man bobsled plus men's and women's skeleton.
The U.S. team edged Germany by 0.24 seconds even though the Germans won three of four disciplines on the Olympia track.
In case you missed it yesterday—and I don't know how you could have, considering the only sports on television were European soccer, college basketball, NBA basketball, golf, bowling, the Pro Bowl and Royal Rumble—here's how the event went down.
At first glance, Jones' switch from hurdles to bobsled might seem a bit odd. Okay, very odd. But it does make sense. What athletes are better trained to push off and reach top speed better than Olympic sprinters?
The sport of bobsled has turned to track and field athletes in the past, but perhaps none as well-known as Jones. In fact, Jones herself was concerned that her teammates might be uncomfortable with the scrutiny that follows her everywhere she goes when she first joined the U.S. team in October.
But that wasn't a concern. And her head coach was impressed with her work ethic, as he told the Associated Press (via ESPN) in October:
"I didn't have a lot of time to get to know Lolo through the media," U.S. women's bobsled coach Todd Hays said. "These three weeks, I've gotten to know her as an athlete. And she surprised me every day with how dedicated she is. The one word I keep coming back to is, she's such a competitor. She cannot accept not being good at something. She gets up earlier than everybody else, goes to bed later, constantly trying to get better."
If you are going to switch sports, you'll need an extra layer of dedication. If the switch involves shifting from a track to ice, add another layer. And if you are trying to compete at the Olympic level, well, kiss your social life goodbye.
Power to Jones for finding a way to continue her athletic career. I know I'll be cheering her on. I'm already impressed by her versatility and dedication.
Some folks may have criticized Jones in the past for being more hype and publicity than result—an unfair criticism, truthfully—but I can't imagine anyone finding fault with Jones' quiet pursuit of a new career.
Instead, let's admire her for trying.