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Lolo: Critics 'ripped me to shreds'
Already stinging from her fourth-place finish in Tuesday’s 100-meter hurdles, Lolo Jones battled tears on Wednesday and lashed out at critics who “ripped me to shreds” days before she competed in the Olympics final.
The subject of her ire: A piece in The New York Times last weekend that questioned whether Jones was more marketing sensation than gifted athlete.
The article pointedly compared her to Anna Kournikova, the former tennis professional who capitalized on her stunning looks while competing for more than a decade, peaking at No. 8 in the world in 2000 but never winning a WTA title.
“I think it was crazy just because it was two days before I competed, and then the fact that it was from a US media,’’ Jones said on NBC's Today Show, fighting tears before letting her emotions flow.
“They should be supporting our US Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds. I just thought that that was crazy because I worked six days a week, every day, for four years for a 12-second race and the fact that they just tore me apart, which is heartbreaking.
“They didn’t even do their research, calling me the Anna Kournikova of track. I have the American record. I am the American record holder indoors, I have two world indoor titles. Just because I don’t boast about these things, I don’t think I should be ripped apart by media. I laid it out there, fought hard for my country and it’s just a shame that I have to deal with so much backlash when I’m already so brokenhearted as it is.”
Tuesday night, Jones tweeted that she had a “broken heart’' after failing to win a medal in her second Olympics, missing the medals stand by one-tenth of a second. The performance in London was intended to erase the disappointment of her 2008 Olympics’ stumble in Beijing, when she was leading in the final — only to clip the ninth hurdle. Jones finished eighth.
Tuesday’s 100-meter hurdles final was the fastest in Olympic history. Australia’s Sally Pearson won the gold with an Olympic-record 12.35 seconds, barely edging American Dawn Harper by two-hundredths of a second at the finish. But Jones took little solace in that.
“Definitely, I was crushed afterwards,’’ Jones said Wednesday. “I know I had the best race of my season. Not the best race of my life, but I had the best race of my year, so I just try to look at that. It doesn’t take away from the pain that I was close to once again having a medal and not getting it.”
Jones has been a lightning rod for attention and criticism because of her sex appeal and openness regarding with personal life.
She has candidly discussed her virginity and difficulty finding a boyfriend who appreciates her chastity at age 30. Noting that, The Times article questioned her sincerity by discussing Jones’ provocative pose for the ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue as well as her cover for Outside magazine, where the self-proclaimed Christian was photographed "seeming to wear a bathing suit made of nothing but strategically placed ribbon."
Jones also has battled serious injuries and setbacks the past year, so merely reaching the final has helped her appreciate that accomplishment as she moves forward.
“I think it’s disappointing in one extreme as in I didn’t get the medal, but in another extreme, a year ago I was having spinal cord surgery,’’ Jones said.
“I mean if I look at that, spinal cord surgery, two hamstring injuries and you fought through all of that, so I take time to focus on that and not the negativity I’ve received.”
Ultimately, Jones says she hopes her struggles and accomplishments will inspire others.
“Putting your heart out there, obviously it opens you up to a lot of negativity, but at the same time if I could just reach somebody out there,’’ she said.
“Maybe there’s a little girl who thinks she can be an Olympic athlete and she sees all the things I struggled through to get here. Yeah, I didn’t walk away with a medal or run away with a medal, but I think there’s lessons to be learned when you win and lessons to be learned when you lose.’’
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