LoLo Jones, the Olympic hurdler who made headlines throughout the summer but failed to medal, is in training in Lake Placid, N.Y., to become a member of the United State’s bobsled team. And apparently she’s doing well, too.
Bobsled coach Todd Hays invited several track Olympians to speak to prospective team members as an inspiration, and also as a not-so-subtle way to test their willingness and skill at the bobsled pushing slot. Jones took the bait, and in her very first night of competitive pushing, shoved pilot Jazmine Fenlator to a combined two-run time of 1:57.01. That was good enough for second place, only 0.05 seconds behind the leaders.
“It’s a new sport for me and there’s a ton of room for improvement,” Jones told Sports Illustrated. “I’m coming in here trying to learn everything quickly. I’m looking forward to fixing some things and hammering it out.”
The full team will be announced following the conclusion of trials in both bobsled and skeleton later this week. The jump from other sports into bobsled pushing isn’t quite as wide as the gap between, say, baseball and basketball. Former football star Herschel Walker made the U.S. bobsled team in 1992, but only pushed his sled to seventh place in Albertville, France.
Earlier this year, Jones arrived in London as one of the most celebrated athletes at the 2012 Games, at least in part because of off-track stories. In her 100m hurdles, she finished a disappointing fourth, and is a long shot to make the 2016 team.
Following the London Games, Jones, on the brink of tears, called “heartbreaking” criticism she received after failing to win a medal in the London Olympics.
Jones appeared on NBC’s “Today” on and was asked about a recent story in The New York Times that said her stardom had more to do with marketing than her accomplishments on the track.
“They just ripped me to shreds, and I just thought that that was crazy,” Jones said.
She finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles Tuesday, 0.10 seconds behind bronze medalist Kellie Wells. Jones was leading the final when in Beijing four years ago when she hit the ninth of 10 hurdles and wound up seventh.
“Putting your heart out there, obviously, it opens you up to a lot of negativity,” Jones said.