Everywhere you turned during the Olympics, it seemed like there was a heartwarming story. That’s what we’ve come to expect in the media during the patriotic sporting event. But that certainly wasn’t the case for USA hurdler LoLo Jones, who heard criticism from plenty of folks, from writers to her own teammates.
Jones, who just missed out on the gold medal in Beijing, was criticized for being over-hyped heading into London because of her good looks. Then, when the race actually occurred, she finished fourth, just off the medal stand, and subsequently heard all about it from the public and even her own teammates.
LoLo Jones joined ESPN Los Angeles with Mason and Ireland to discuss if she found any solace in finishing fourth because she was coming back from spinal cord surgery, the heat she took for not medaling, what she learned from the experience, a newspaper article that said she only got so much hype because of her good looks and some disparaging comments from her teammates.
In the disappointment that comes with finishing fourth, did you find any solace in just getting back to that point after spinal cord surgery?:
“I really haven’t thought of the whole maybe I never would have ran again because sometimes you do take things for granted. I was just focused on, ‘What can I do to get back?’ I will say this, like the whole season I just felt like I was running out of time. I felt like I needed another month, another month, and it was just one setback after another. I just felt like I was off pace from the other athletes. … But, I am proud of the way I fought.”
On the harsh criticism she received:
“When I left, that’s when I caught so much backlash of like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s the most over-hyped hurdler in the world.’ People completely jumped on me for getting fourth place and obviously a lot of them didn’t even know I had the spinal cord procedure, and I’m not one to make excuses. I went out there and put it all on the line, but I thought it was just crazy the amount of backlash I was getting, especially from people who didn’t even make an Olympic team ever in their life that were like, ‘She’s so overrated’ and ‘Congrats on not medaling.’”
On what she’s learned through the whole thing:
“I just have learned through the whole process that, at the end of the day, I don’t walk away with any medal that I can be proud of, but I’m definitely proud of the way I fought.”
Did the piece in the New York Times that said you got more publicity than the other American track and field athletes because of your looks change the way you’ll view things like endorsements?:
“I just laugh at the article because they clearly know nothing about our sport. First and foremost, when I fly or travel to any competition, that’s all out of pocket. I can rack up anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 in airfare alone. Also, all my medical bills, I pay for myself. Any kind of expenses due to my sport is all on me. So we rely heavily on sponsorships to make sure we can pay for these trips to go race and represent Team USA. The chance we can get these sponsorships the most is during the Olympics. We have, every four years, a chance to capitalize, and that money has to last us for four years when our sport isn’t in the spotlight. For him to say it was a marketing ploy, or whatever, I’m doing what any athlete would do, and that’s get sponsorships that can help me go to these races and make sure I’m ready to represent Team USA.”
Your teammates were kind of outspoken about you on NBC. Did you make up with them yet?:
“Well, I ended my season. I think they’re still over in Europe running a couple more races, so I haven’t seen them. I’ll probably run into them — haha corny track joke — but I’ll probably run into them next year at some of the races. Track, it’s actually kind of weird, we go to these meets and we’ll actually sit down and have dinner. … So I’m sure I’ll run into them and have a chance to speak to them. Who knows? Honestly, I didn’t even know those words were spoken about me, so I was kind of shocked about that, so I don’t know, we’ll see, I guess, next year.”