Lolo Jones does not launch his book “Over It” with his greatest success.
She could have described what it was like to be one of the few athletes to qualify for the Winter and Summer Olympics. She could have written about the gold medal won at the bobsleigh world championships earlier this year.
Instead, she starts with what she calls the “most painful race” of her career – the 100-meter hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Jones was favorite to win, but she crossed the penultimate hurdle and finished in seventh place.
“I was one step away from winning an Olympic gold medal,” Jones said. “It was a huge failure, but I pivoted.”
Jones then qualified for two more Olympic competitions. She raced again in the 100-meter hurdles in 2012 and in 2014 she competed in the US bobsleigh team.
Although she has yet to win Olympic gold, she hopes her book will inspire others to persevere in the face of adversity.
An avid reader, she has read self-help books written by people who have triumphed in their chosen field. But she wanted to know, “Where’s the book about someone who’s still in battle, who’s still frustrated, who doesn’t know if it’s going to work?”
With “Over It,” Jones said she wanted to demonstrate “that you can actually turn bad into good.”
“I used that failure to pivot in some of my biggest wins,” Jones said. “If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have been one of 10 Americans in Olympic history to compete in the Summer and Winter Games.
Although Jones is deeply competitive – the lack of competition during the pandemic led her to join the MTV reality show “The Challenge” – she says she hasn’t always been like that. She developed that mentality on the track, where she realized “how fun it was to push yourself and see if you can improve”.
At 38, she hasn’t given up on her dreams, but her goals have changed again. The pandemic has led Jones to put the Tokyo Games aside and focus on training for next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“It stopped me completely and changed my whole journey,” Jones said. “I was training for my last summer Olympics; I intended to be currently retired.
Instead, Jones returned to bobsledding, a move she hadn’t anticipated.
“All my plans have been ripped off,” she said. “And I think it’s happened to a lot of people.”
Jones has regained shape after years of absence from the sport. Eventually, she became Kaillie Humphries’ brakeman and won gold at this year’s World Championships.
“I tried to win a bobsleigh world championship even in my prime, and I never got to do it,” she said. “So being able to do that at the end of my career was something quite special.”
It was the motivation she needed to focus on returning to Beijing – the site of her crushing loss 13 years ago.
In the meantime, she will cheer on American athletes in Tokyo.
“Obviously, Simone Biles is the GOAT,” Jones said. “I can’t wait to see how it all plays out for her in Tokyo.”
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