Tuesday, August 7, 2012

With Failure After Failure, Lolo Jones Doesn’t Live Up to Hype

And so it ends, without Lolo Jones earning a medal to drape around her neck. For the American hurdler who has been criticized so much, it’s quite iconic with what happened to Jones again in these games, heartbroken and disillusioned, fighting through much adversity and having a second chance to respond, but unfortunately she was unsuccessful in redeeming herself of failures.

In Beijing, she tripped over the penultimate hurdle, falling flat on her face in the final to experience an agonizing debacle that crushed her heart, and then she had no choice but to live with the pain and humiliation until the London Games. Seeking redemption after blowing a gold-medal run in 2008, Jones perhaps was too slow, and without even tripping over a hurdle, she suffered a heartbreaker that will hurt for a while as she was supposed to be the comeback kid.

Considering that she’s a megastar in women’s track and field, engulfed in much tension and associated with negative publicity, she’s not famous only for her hurdling but sex appeal and marketing in which Jones attracts so much attention and plenty of hype because she’s gorgeous and sells products. It was four years later, not long after she burst into tears and missed out on Olympic gold, that Jones was burnt out from the annoying criticism and bashing, dealing with a remote crossroads and tough obstacles as she trained hard six days a week for the London Olympics.

The most hyped Olympian ever, finishing the 100-meter hurdles fourth and then walking off in shock Tuesday, stood at the finish line, with her eyes staring at the scoreboard, fighting away tears and holding back emotions as the gold medal slipped away ever so quickly. This time, it boiled down to a tight, nerve-racking finish, and then by the time Jones broke the tape to record a time of 12.58 seconds, her fastest time of the season, she still couldn’t medal to exceed expectations in the summer games. She was so disgusted, that she barely took a few minutes to congratulate second-place finisher Dawn Harper, the gold medalist in Beijing. The sight of her reaction was depressing and disheartening, and when she walked off promptly to escape from cameramen, she put her hands over her head and bent over, with tears flowing after enduring a gut-wrenching near miss.

The rain dropped softly, and as it was another lamentable night, she failed to prove she’s an athletic runner and not just a marketer, widely dissed by the media and critics for having no athleticism but an image and beauty that has ballooned her stardom. Having a beautiful smile and gorgeous looks that gives off a glow, Jones’ endorsements makes her rich and popular, not the way she performs on the track when she tries jumping over hurdles. The star of American track and field is the epitome of an overly beloved athlete treated like a heroine, making the cover of Time, along with a spread in Rolling Stone and a feature on MTV.com, when she had not medaled in the Olympics. The American diva of Olympians is also the prototype of a supermodel and could have a second career as a famous TV personality, especially after appearing on late-night television as a guest on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where she was rather more entertaining in front of the camera than running a footrace that she has not seen much triumph in during the course of her prosaic Olympic career.

It was, at the very least, intriguing that she opened up publicly to offer her biography on a rough life story. It wasn’t always easy for Jones, growing up in poverty as a young girl and living in a church basement with her family. Growing up poor with practically nothing, her ex-con father taught her to shoplift but she refused to take such a horrific path, turning to sports for a new outlet and then became a track star in high school that earned her a scholarship to LSU. Shortly after her phenomenal college career at Louisiana State University that launched her Olympic career and formed unnecessary hype, she foolishly posed nude in a magazine, and then vowed to remain a virgin until marriage. She is coming off a career threatening injury, and made a strong recovery after undergoing spinal cord surgery. Days after the procedure, despite a speedy rehab that allowed Jones to resume intense training, it was believed to be that she wouldn’t ever race again.

It’s funny she’s overly advertised and portrayed as a winner, when truthfully she has not won a damn thing, sputtering on the biggest stage and fluffing her chances of proving to be one of the best hurdlers. But as it turns out, Jones is merely a Twitter sensation, a superwoman exposed to all the glamour and endorsement deals. So basically, she’s a marketing ploy, a woman with a sexy body and beautiful looks. There’s nothing more to it, and by thinking there’s more to it, then just flash back to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I remember the race like it was yesterday, and not only was she in the lead for the 100-meter hurdle race, but right there at the finish line to secure the gold medal until hitting the last hurdle to finish seventh.

Talk about a heartbreaker. The standards are always more demanding for Olympic athletes when supporting and savoring high regards, leaving the athlete with no room to breathe or even commit failure. The weight of expectations is larger. The magnitude of failure is a concern. And the pressure of having to win and sustain near-perfection is hard and oppressive. By now Jones can see it, now that she is living through it and faces a sense of reality. She’s anything but golden. Not as advertised, she’s wrongly publicized. Not once in the Olympics has she ever been that good of a hurdler.

Australia’s Sally Pearson finished in 12.35 seconds, just .02 ahead of Harper to win gold. The other American medal-winner was Kellie Wells, an athlete who wasn’t nearly as popular or talked about. If you’ve been watching, then you certainly know of Lolo, a hurdler you cannot miss. It’s impossible to miss her, with all the attention she absorbs, which is not floating too well with a number of U.S. Olympic athletes. The Lolo drama is nothing more but an insult to them, a form of disrespect and disregard when two Americans beat Jones, who is so famous in London, she could have her reality show as the diva of pop culture and not a real athlete. Maybe she’s an idol, but she’s not an Olympian just because of her title in these games.

It doesn’t mean anything if she can’t ever win a medal. It doesn’t matter whether she’s a world indoor champion and first-place finisher at meets in Norway and Qatar. Wake me up when she wins at the Olympics. Until then, I’m sleeping on Lolo, a name that sounds like a baby lullaby. And, after all, she has been pouting and crying in these games, mad over a controversial New York Times magazine article last week that compared Jones to Anna Kournikova. The female tennis star has never won a Grand Slam singles final. So that’s not such a bad comparison quite frankly, in fact, it’s brilliant.

As it seems, at least for now, Jones is no crying or laughing matter. Try an American disgrace.

A fat hippo has a better chance of winning a race than she does.