After entering the third and fourth runs of the women's bobsled competition in 11th place at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Lolo Jones and Jazmine Fenlator were unable to get themselves in medal position on Wednesday.
The pair finished in 11th place with a total time of 3:53.97. Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse of Canada took home gold, while the American teams of Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams and Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans won silver and bronze, respectively.
|2||United States 1||3:50.71|
|3||United States 2||3:51.61|
Jones and Fenlator were tabbed as Team USA's No. 3 sled behind the pairing of Williams and Meyers as well as the duo of Evans and Greubel. The top two American teams were in podium position midway through the competition, while Jones and Fenlator found themselves in the middle of the pack due to a couple of shaky runs.
Despite the success that Jones has had across multiple Olympic disciplines, she has faced plenty of criticism. Jones twice failed to medal as an Olympic hurdler, which led many to question her credentials. Most famously, Jere Longman of The New York Times blasted Jones following the 2012 Summer Games even though she endured an arduous comeback from a spinal injury.
Jones has since decided to pursue a career in bobsled as a pusher and brakeman. She quickly reached an Olympic level in her new sport, and she was chosen as one of Team USA's top three pushers in Sochi. As has always been the case with Jones, though, detractors questioned whether she was deserving of the honor.
At the same time, many have defended the selection, including U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation CEO Darrin Steele, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press:
This is an emotional situation. She brings a lot of baggage with her. I don't see that side of her. I kind of respect that she's not guarded. The reality is it's easy to look for an excuse, especially when it's close. I can see the logic when people don't understand the sport. I'm a little disappointed with some of the people inside the sport who make the same statements.
Despite all the chatter, Jones' singular focus heading into Sochi was to win an Olympic medal by any means necessary, according to Shira Springer of The Boston Globe:
My job is the same as it's always been. 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.
Jones made Olympic history simply by being named to the bobsled team as she and teammate Lauryn Williams became two of a handful of athletes who have appeared in both the Winter and Summer Olympics, according to Bryce Miller of The Des Moines Register:
USA runs mean Lauryn Williams, Lolo Jones become 9th/10th Americans, either gender, to compete in Summer and Winter Games.— Bryce Miller (@Bryce_A_Miller) February 18, 2014
Although Jones did everything in her power to win an Olympic medal in Sochi, she and Fenlator were too far off the pace to rectify things on the second day of runs. Jones appeared to do a fine job pushing, but Fenlator struggled as a driver at times, especially in the second heat when their bobsled turned sideways at one point.
What should Lolo Jones do next?
Jones is such a polarizing figure that it's likely people will continue to criticize her, especially now that she will leave yet another Olympics empty-handed. She was put in a very difficult position since she didn't know with whom she would be partnered heading into Sochi, so the performance of Jones and Fenlator was quite respectable, all things considered.
At 31 years of age, it remains to be seen what is next for Jones. She could continue to hone her skills in bobsled, rededicate herself to hurdles or even walk away from competition altogether. No matter what she does, though, it will be under intense scrutiny.
Bette Marston of Sports Illustrated couldn't help but ask if we'd see Jones for the 2016 Olympics in Rio:
Lolo Jones just finished her fourth and last bobsled run of this Winter Olympics. Will we see her in Rio?— Bette Marston (@ehm1989) February 19, 2014
Winning a medal in Sochi would have been a great story for Jones, but perhaps missing out yet again can make for an even better story in the future. Whatever the case, all eyes will be on Jones until she ultimately decides to end her Olympic pursuit.
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