Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones competes in the U.S. women's bobsled push… (Michael Lynch / Associated…)
Lolo Jones may earn an Olympic medal yet -- maybe even before the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The two-time Olympic hurdler was one of 24 athletes announced Thursday as members of the U.S. bobsled team, giving her a chance to earn a spot on the World Cup circuit this winter and possibly compete in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Jones and Olympic sprint gold medalist Tianna Madison, who was part of the world record-setting 4x100-meter relay team in London, made the bobsled team as a push athletes. Their job is to help start the sled down the icy chute before jumping into the backseat for a bumpy ride to the finish.
U.S. women's bobsled coach Todd Hays had the idea of inviting Jones, Madison and fellow Olympic track veteran Hyleas Fountain -- who was injured during the tryout process and did not make the team -- to Lake Placid, N.Y., to give the winter sport a shot.
“The obvious is their athleticism and that's why we invited them here,” Hays said. “The other incredible quality about them, which was not known to me until they got here, was how competitive and dedicated they are in their pursuit of athletic excellence. They're just great competitors and have become students of the game, just absolutely driven to succeed in whatever they try.”
Jones has endured a bit of a rough year, after finishing fourth in the 100-meter hurdles in London and receiving criticism from even some of her track teammates for the amount of attention she receives. The first-time bobsledder called her new sport "a breath of fresh air -- cool, very cool, cold air," even though she said she was ready to quit the first time down the mountain.
“I just came out here and kind of needed to get away from track for a bit, kind of wanted to get some motivation,” Jones said. “I thought coming out here with the other girls that we could help each other, we could benefit from one another. I could help them with their speed and they could help me with my strength. And just being around them, hearing their goals gave me new goals and refreshed me.”
With six women still left to compete for three push-athlete spots, there's no guarantee that Jones will make it to the World Cup circuit, which opens on Nov. 8. But you can rest assured that if she doesn't, it won't be for a lack of trying.
"She surprised me every day with how dedicated she is," Hays said of Jones. "The one word I keep coming back to is, she's such a competitor. She cannot accept not being good at something. She gets up earlier than everybody else, goes to bed later, constantly trying to get better.”
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