For Lolo Jones, all that mattered was an Olympic medal. What the rest of the world cared - her beauty and virginity - rather became a hurdle to the American hurdler's professional success.
Heart-broken and disappointed after finishing fourth in the women's 100-meter hurdles final Tuesday night, Jones fired back at the media for senseless coverage of her personal life.
In the women's 100-meter hurdles final Tuesday night, Jones' time of 12.58 seconds fell a tenth of a second short of an Olympic medal.
Australian Sally Pearson set a new Olympics record with her time of 12.35 seconds, edging defending champion Dawn Harper of the U.S., who finished with 12.37 seconds. The bronze medal went to American Kellie Wells, who finished in 12.48 seconds.
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It was just this weekend when The New York Times churned out a story titled "For Lolo Jones, Everything is Image," claiming that Jones' non-track life is about money and attention.
The article claimed that the excessive publicity Jones received in the past months "was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign."
"Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses," it continues.
"I didn't read it, but I heard it was quite bad," Jones said after racing in the Olympic 100-meter hurdles final Tuesday. "I don't understand why they would rip a U.S.athlete apart two days before they run."
Wednesday morning, Lolo Jones appeared on "The Today Show" and lamented the recklessness of her nation's media.
"I think it was crazy just because it was two days before I competed, and then the fact that it was from a U.S. media. They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds," she said. "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 ... they just tore me apart, which is heartbreaking.
"They didn't even do the research. 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."
The race itself was not the source of her disappointment, Jones explained.
"I was crushed afterwards. 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 told the show.
The Christian athlete is turning her heart to the positive side.
"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. 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."
Jones has openly spoken about her personal life, from her virginity to her struggles with injuries, with the hope of inspiring people to overcome adversity.
“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,’’ Jones 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.’’
Though "it's hard to be positive all the time with people doubting your abilities," Jones said after the 100-meter semi-final, her Christian faith seems to give her greater strength than anything else.
"In room Singing Desert song by Hillsong. Its on repeat. Lord Jesus please comfort me , guide me & heal my broken heart," Jones tweeted after the final race.
"...Also want to Thank u Lord for technically giving me the best seat in the stadium to watch the 100mh final. Congrats Sally, Dawn & kellie," she continued.
A fan also tweeted a message which Lolo Jones herself retweeted, as if to confirm its credibility.
"Read LoloJones' lips pre-race: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. #faith," reads the tweet, quoting from Philippians 4:13.
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