Found August 07, 2012 on Fox Sports:
Track-and-field-olympic
All that emotion, all that work, all those personal details. Lolo Jones sold herself by being painfully honest with us. Four years of honesty, four years of salesmanship. She invested so much of herself into winning gold and baring her soul. What now? The winners go on to lives of glory. But what about the ones who shoot big and lose? Jones finished fourth in the Olympic 100-meter hurdles Tuesday. Her fastest race of the year, 12.58 seconds, but no medal. Again. Here is the painful truth: Lolo Jones just isn't quite good enough. For all the marketing and all the headlines, you still have to get it done in the big moment. Michael Phelps does. Usain Bolt does. "Obviously, I just feel like a big disappointment,'' Jones said. "So I guess all the people who were talking about me can have their night and laugh about me, I guess.'' Jones is never going to be an Olympic medalist. She was on the verge of winning gold four years ago in Beijing, but hit a hurdle and finished seventh. She said she had always hoped that Rio would be her last Olympics, but that's four years away, and she'll be 34 by then. Even now, she said, she's already having trouble getting into big races. "Politics, I guess,'' she said. Jones was a wreck after the race. Not so much in tears, though there were some. Instead, it was about the confusion of what this means for her after all the buildup. There was anger, frustration, embarrassment, maybe some fear mixed in there, too. Definitely some fear. I should probably mention the medal winners here. There were some. Australian Sally Pearson won gold in 12.35 seconds. Americans Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells won silver and bronze. Jones missed a medal by one-tenth of a second. Afterward, Harper and Wells were not the most gracious of winners regarding Jones. "I feel like I kind of shut some people up,'' Harper said. "You've got to talk about Dawn a little bit. Sprinkle me in that conversation about the hundred hurdles.'' You were right there, Dawn, just 289 words into this Lolo column. Harper is the one who won gold in Beijing after Jones hit the hurdle. And she has been frustrated and actually bitter about all the attention Jones has gotten. But I'm sorry, the story is still all about Lolo. "Keep watching Lolo and you'll see me, too,'' Wells said. Someone asked if she'll be the one we see in front of Jones? "Yeah. Of course.'' Wells also said this: "They can't leave me out, because I'll be in all the pictures on the podium.'' Harper and Wells can't win for winning here. When you are the best, it's understandably frustrating that everyone focuses on someone else. But it is not Jones' fault that she knows how to sell herself. It's actually important. Jones said after the race that she doesn't understand the backlash against her, or the story attacking her in The New York Times the other day. I understand it. The other hurdlers are jealous. And the media are holding her to an unfair standard, probably sexist. Also, when people are in the spotlight all the time, sometimes you can get tired of them. Jones has sold herself endlessly, but that's exactly what these athletes with short-term careers should be doing. The turning point was probably in tweeting -- and then in saying on HBO -- that she's a virgin. It made Jones one of the biggest sports names, but also kicked off some hard feelings about what, exactly, she was trying to push. Yes, that was probably calculated. But it was Jones trying to open up even more. She had already told about living in poverty, in a Red Cross basement, and shoplifting to get food. We ask these athletes to let us in, and Jones did, big time. She was a marketing creation, and now will have to go back to that. But at one point, she also was the world's best hurdler. She won two indoor world championships. She has not only made two Olympic teams, but also reached two finals. Jones tried to take comfort in the way Tuesday's race ended. It was a clean race. No mistake like in Beijing. She just wasn't fast enough. It takes rarified air to be an Olympic champion, though. And if we didn't know she was a virgin, most people would not care any more about her. That sounds cold, but the point is, people will still care. The self-marketing did her no harm, but instead gave her prospects. She just can't think about that now. "Every time I come here (to the Olympics),'' she said, "I get burned.'' Jones will not have a life of Olympic glory. She shot big and lost on the track. But she still took her life from nowhere, reached the Olympics and built a brand. Her honesty hurt her Tuesday, but in the end, that is her big victory here, too.
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