Timeline of Lolo Jones' Transformation from Track Star to Olympic Bobsledder

Lindsay Gibbs@linzsports Featured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

Rick Bowmer/AP Images

Lolo Jones, best known for her two appearances in the Summer Olympics on the U.S. track and field team, made history over the weekend when she was named to the U.S. bobsled team that will be headed to Sochi next month.

Only nine other American athletes in Olympic history have ever competed in both the Summer and Winter Games—one of them being her bobsled teammate, two-time Olympic track medalist Lauryn Williams. 

With the nomination, Jones instantly became one of the most famous faces headed to the Winter Olympics to compete for Team USA. Her openness about her personal life, public failures and constant humorous presence on social media have made her a household name.

Here's a look at her journey from heartbreak in Olympic hurdles to newfound hope on the bobsled track:

Aug. 19, 2008: Disaster Strikes in Beijing

BEIJING - AUGUST 19:  Lolo Jones of the United States looks dejected after the Women's 100m Hurdles Final held at the National Stadium on Day 11 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 19, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Image
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Jones was the favorite to win the 100-meter hurdles headed into the 2008 Summer Olympics, and her story of childhood hardship to podium hopeful had struck a chord with fans.

She led the 100-meter race all the way until the second-to-last hurdle, which she clipped. The setback was enough to cause Jones to fall back to seventh place. As she dropped to her knees in disbelief, she became a symbol of the agony that sometimes accompanies Olympic dreams.

May 21, 2012: Jones' Profile Grows as She Opens Up About Her Virginity

Four years later, Jones' struggles were still resonating with people, and in the lead-up to the London Olympic Games the publicity surrounding her was gaining steam. But things reached a fever pitch when, in an interview with Mary Carillo on HBO's Real Sports, Jones talked candidly about her commitment to her virginity and the obstacles that came with it.

Many had a hard time rectifying such a bold stance of faith with the publicity-hungry athlete who had once posed nude for ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue, and the buzz surrounding Jones just continued to grow. 

June 23, 2012: Jones Qualifies for the London Olympics

With the spotlight on her brighter than ever, many were quick to point out that Jones hadn't even booked her ticket to London yet. However, she quieted that noise when she qualified third in the U.S. Olympic trials in hurdles, just barely making the team.

EUGENE, OR - JUNE 23: (L-R) Lolo Jones, Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells pose after qualifying for the Olympics after the women's 100 meter hurdles final during Day Two of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 23, 2012 in Eu
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

She wasn't the overwhelming favorite like she was in Beijing, but at least she was in the race.

Aug. 7, 2012: Fourth-Place Blues

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06:  Lolo Jones of the United States looks on after she competes in the Women's 100m Hurdles heat on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 6, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Alexander Hassens
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Jones didn't clip a hurdle in her Olympic race this year, but she did finish in fourth place, just off the medal stand. Once again, Jones was headed home from the Games empty-handed and would seemingly have to wait another four years for a chance at Olympic glory

Oct. 8, 2012: Jones Is Invited to USA Bobsled Team Trials, Receives Backlash

Martin Meissner/Associated Press

The U.S. bobsled team coach, Todd Hays, invited Jones and a few other track and field athletes to a one-day bobsled trial at the beginning of October, both to pump up team morale and to have experienced Olympians around to push his athletes.

But it's not unusual for track and field athletes to move to bobsled, and Jones seemed interested in the sport right away. However, headlines such as, "Lolo Jones' Latest Attention Grab" portrayed this as just a publicity stunt.

Oct. 25, 2012: Jones Is Named to the U.S. Bobsled Team

But Jones didn't let the criticism bother her—she ended up enjoying her time with the team, working hard and finding out that she had a talent for the sport. She was rewarded with a spot on the national team

Nov. 9, 2012: She Wins a Silver Medal in Her First World Cup Race

Despite her nerves, Jones teamed up with driver Jazmine Fenlator to push her way to a silver medal in her first World Cup race in Lake Placid, N.Y. It was quite a debut.

Dec. 3, 2012: Jones Tweets About Her First Crash

Crashing is a rite of passage for bobsledders, but it took Jones two months on the job to experience her first one. Luckily, she came away with her sense of humor—and priorities—firmly in tact.

Jan. 27, 2013: Wins World Championship with U.S. Bobsled Team

Capping off a successful first bobsled season, Jones helped push Team USA to a gold medal in the World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland. 

Jones was thrilled. She was shown having a blast celebrating the victory with her teammates. 

Feb. 15, 2013: Jones Finishes Her Bobsled Season, Heads Back to the Track

Despite her newfound success in bobsled, Jones went back to hurdle training in the spring. She wasn't too happy about the switch once she saw those workouts, though...

June 6, 2013: Jones Finishes Second in an International Race in Rome

Proving that she hadn't forgotten how to hurdle, Jones had a good showing in Rome, finishing second behind her rival, Dawn Harper. It was a big moment for Jones, who had fallen at this event the two years prior, and it proved once again that she could handle being a two-sport athlete.

June 17, 2013: Sparks Controversy with a Vine Mocking How Little Bobsled Athletes Get Paid

Her social media account once again got Jones into trouble, when she posted a Vine showing the measly $741.84 check she received for seven months on the bobsled team.

She was widely criticized by people saying that with all her endorsements she shouldn't be complaining about money, but Jones was insistent that she did it to help raise awareness of the issue

June 19, 2013: Jones Prepares for the U.S. Track and Field Championships

Jones bypassed the paycheck controversy quickly by having fun with her track and field teammates as they prepared for the championships.

She also put to rest any rumors of discord with her bobsled team when Fenlator, a fellow bobsledder, tweeted that she was coming to the track to cheer Jones on.

July 3, 2013: Jones Says That She Is Giving Race Winnings to Help Bobsled Teammates 

To further her support of struggling bobsledders, Jones tweeted that she would be donating the $4,000 she won from a track and field race to their fundraising pages. 

Aug. 5, 2013: Drug Testers Crash Her Birthday Party

Everyone agrees that drug tests are necessary for Olympic athletes, but Jones had fun with the drug testers who showed up on her birthday.

Sept. 5, 2013: Jones Opens Up About Her 9,000-Calorie-Per-Day Bobsled Diet

As Jones started switching back into bobsled gear after her track and field summer, she had to put on weight so she'd have the strength to compete. She had a lot of fun with this, even if the headlines weren't always kind.

Oct. 26, 2013: Jones Is Named to the National Bobsled Team Again

Competition is always the stiffest in Olympic years, but Jones kept her Sochi hopes alive when she qualified for her second national team. Now a veteran on the team, Jones had all eyes on her to see if this was going to result in a trip to the Games in February.

Oct. 31, 2013: Jones Causes a Stir by Telling a Woman to Relax Her Hair

Despite being busy on the bobsled team, Jones still couldn't keep out of trouble. Her Twitter was brought back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons on Halloween when she critiqued a fan's Lolo Jones costume by telling her that she needed to relax her hair to get the costume right.

Many were offended, but Jones felt the comment was in jest and didn't apologize.

Nov. 28, 2013: Jones Spends Thanksgiving with Her Bobsled Teammates

An athlete often doesn't get holidays, and Jones proved that by tweeting about her Thanksgiving plans. She didn't feel sorry for herself, though—she had her eyes set on Sochi.

Dec. 7, 2013: Wins Silver in World Cup Race in Park City, Utah

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

After struggling a bit to start the bobsled season, Jones did wonders for her Olympic hopes by winning the silver medal with driver Jamie Greubel in Park City. Team USA swept the medal stand in that competition, setting it up as the best team from top to bottom in the world. 

Jan. 5, 2014: Jones Wins Another Silver in World Cup Race 

Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Starting the year strong, Jones put in another second-place finish with pilot Elana Meyers in a World Cup race in Winterberg, Germany. Her second medal of the season put her firmly in the Olympic team conversation, though she had tough competition from other push athletes.

Jan. 19, 2014: Named to the U.S. Bobsled Team Headed to Sochi

All of her hard work was finally worth it when Jones booked her ticket to Sochi, joining an exclusive list of athletes to compete in both the Summer and Winter Games. She was overwhelmed with gratitude for the journey, posting on Facebook:

Had I not hit a hurdle in beijing I would not have tried to go to London to redeem myself.

Had I not got fourth in London I would not have tried to find another way to accomplish

the dream. 

Bobsled was my fresh start. 

Bobsled humbled me.

Bobsled made me stronger.

Bobsled made me hungry.

Bobsled made me rely on faith.

Bobsled gave me hope. 

I push a bobsled but bobsled pushed me to never give up on my dreams. 

I am honored and excited to say I am on the 2014 Winter Olympic Team. 

Feb. 18-19, 2014: Winter Olympics to Show Fruits of Jones' Labor

PARK CITY, UT - OCTOBER 25:  Bobsled pilot Jazmine Fenlator and brakewoman Lolo Jones push their sled at the start of their first run during the selection runs at the Utah Olympic Park October 25, 2013 in Park City, Utah. With a combined two-run time of 1
Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

While Jones will be one of the major names in the Sochi Games, the buzz around her has more to do with her star power than her medal prospects. Finishing on the podium in February is not out of the question for Jones, but it will take a combination of perfect execution and a little luck for her to finally snag that elusive Olympic medal. 

Jones finished fifth in the 2013 USBSF Women's Bobsled Push Championships, although her time was just 0.245 seconds behind the first-place push athlete. Her sled partner, driver Jazmine Fenlator, enters Sochi ranked seventh in the world behind the other two American drivers Jamie Gruebel and Elana Meyers, three Germans and one Canadian driver. The gap separating the top teams is not insurmountable, but snagging even bronze in Sochi will require Jones and Fenlator either the performance of their lives, a slip up by several of the top-ranked sleds, or both.

Women's bobsled takes place over two days of the 18-day Olympic schedule. Jones will make her Sochi debut in the bobsled qualifying round on Feb. 18 and could secure a spot on the podium during the medal round on Feb. 19. 


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