Fired by an Olympic dream
Though regarded as one of the world’s finest sprint hurdlers, Lolo Jones went away empty handed from Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Undeterred, the American athlete is now going in search of that elusive Olympic medal in the bobsleigh at Sochi 2014.
A tough upbringing
Lori “Lolo” Jones did not have the easiest of childhoods. Living a nomadic existence with her mother and five brothers and sisters, she moved from one town to the next and attended eight different schools across the country. A promising athlete, she decided to go it alone without her family and enrolled at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Ohio, where she nurtured her talent as a hurdler and began to impress at national level, eventually earning a place at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Competing with the LSU Lady Tigers track and field team, Jones won three national college titles and featured 11 times in the All-American team as one of the top eight athletes in her discipline.
Jones was reduced to tears at the 2004 US Olympic Outdoor Trials in Sacramento after missing out on a place in the final by 0.01 of a second, thus ending her hopes of a place at the Athens Games. Refusing to give up on her Olympic dream, she won the world 60m hurdles indoor title in Valencia in March 2008, taking gold in a time of 7.80. She then ran a wind-assisted 12.29 in the 100m hurdles final at the 2008 US Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, the fastest time ever run by an American, and was a firm favourite to win the Olympic final at Beijing 2008. Pulling away from the field, she had the gold medal in her grasp only to clip the ninth hurdle and stumble across the line in seventh. Heartbroken, Jones sank to the ground at the National Stadium and broke down in tears.
Under the knife
A year after winning a second world indoor title in the 60m hurdles in Doha in March 2010, where she set a new world record of 7.72, the popular American underwent an operation on her spine. The aim was to help her regain feeling in her feet, which doctors had identified as the cause of her mishap in Beijing. One year on, Jones qualified for the London Games, where she was beaten to a bronze in the 100m hurdles final by her compatriot Kellie Wells.
Objective Sochi 2014
Jones was then invited to take part in the US Bobsled Push Championships and subsequently made the national team. “This is a breath of fresh air – cool, very cool, cold air,” she said of her new sport. In January 2013 she won the third gold medal of her sporting career when teaming up with Elana Meyers in the combined bobsleigh-skeleton team event at the FIBT World Championships in St Moritz. Though she continues to hurdle, Jones is now training hard for the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, where she hopes, at long last, to fulfil her Olympic dream.