This morning, TheBlaze told you about the harsh jabs and critiques that Olympian Lolo Jones faced following her fourth place finish this week. Aside from the graphic and mean-spirited Twitter comments that were aimed at her decision to remain a virgin until marriage, Jones also received some scathing treatment from The New York Times. In a tearful interview with NBC's "Today" this morning, the athlete discussed her failure to secure a medal, responded to the newspaper's allegations and defended her record.
...Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This 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.
Women have struggled for decades to be appreciated as athletes. For the first time at these Games, every competing nation has sent a female participant. But Jones is not assured enough with her hurdling or her compelling story of perseverance. So she has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal. And, too often, the news media have played right along with her.
Aside from making these claims, the piece essentially compared Jones to Anna Kournikova, a tennis pro who gained fame more for her good looks than her athletic abilities. Jones took particular issue with the negative characterizations given, but she felt particularly angry that an American newspaper would rip her "to shreds" just days before she represented the nation on the international stage.
"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," she said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie." They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds."
Jones explained that she worked six days per week for four years for a race that lasted only 12 seconds, going on to call the Times' treatment of her "heartbreaking." She also accused the newspaper of not doing "their research," and highlighted the fact that she is the American record holder indoors. Throughout a portion of the interview, she was clearly holding back tears.
"Just because I don’t boast about these things, I don’t think I should be ripped apart by media," she explained. "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."
Watch Jones' tearful response, below:
The USA Track & Field web site does, indeed, corroborate Jones' statement that she holds indoor records. Also, her biography describes a spinal surgery she had in 2011 -- just one year before this week's competition:
Jones had spinal surgery in 2011 exactly one year out from the 2012 Olympic final to correct a tethered spine. The spinal condition is believed to have been a factor in her string of recent injuries.
She was the first woman ever to claim back-to-back World Indoor titles in the 60m hurdles while setting an American record in the process. Jones finished her career at LSU as a three-time national champion and 11-time All-American, where she ranks among the top-three all-time at LSU in both the 60m and 100m hurdles. Jones was named Gatorade Midwest Athlete of the year and holds the 100mH record for the state of Iowa (13.40).
In the end, Jones claims that she doesn't regret sharing her personal stories with the world. She cited her ability, considering exposure and attention, to impact others in a positive light.
"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," she said.