Lolo Jones is no stranger to a drama-filled sports career, so she’ll likely have no problem dealing with the competition that lies ahead of her.
Jones won infamy— but no Olympic medals— over the past two Summer Games, but now she’s just one step away from qualifying for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. She was named to the final nine athletes, six of which are pushers, on the U.S. bobsled team.
Jones is one of those six push athletes, meaning she’s more or less a sprinter on ice, who jumps in the back and is along for the two-person ride with the driver after the all-important start.
Lauryn Williams, who was recruited by Jones and has had much more track success than Jones, is also one of the push athletes chosen. Williams won the silver in the women’s 100-meter in Athens in 2004 and ran in the qualification round for the gold medal-winning 4×100-meter relay in London last year.
Jones, of course, is known largely for her off-track life. She was an inspirational favorite in 2008 when she rose to the top of the hurdles world despite growing up with a single mother and jailed father and at times homeless. She became a tragic figure in Beijing when she tripped over the ninth hurdle in the 100 meters while she was in first place.
But somehow she became hated over the next four years due to the attention she was getting despite no longer being a top contender. The New York Times wrote a particularly mean-spirited article about her image leading up to the London Games. She barely qualified for the 2012 U.S. team, but she made the final only to finish fourth.
I, for one, am pulling for her to make the final three push athletes in Sochi. It would be great to see her with one more story of Olympic redemption.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports. He is single and has no problem accepting phone calls from Jones.