I’m no expert on bobsledding so I’ll assume that Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams were picked because they’re the best fit for the team, but I do feel for the women who had dedicated years to making the team who aren’t going to Sochi. From what I’m reading, the competition was close:
“This is the deepest field of push athletes we’ve ever had,” said Darrin Steele, the CEO of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. “We knew heading into the season that the Olympic selection was going to be extremely difficult. It’s a good problem to have, but it meant that some outstanding athletes would not make the Olympic team.”
In short, the U.S. had five women who became de facto finalists for the three push spots. Evans was widely considered a lock to make the team after a series of strong performances, both on and off the track.
Williams was part of four World Cup races this season, winning two silvers earlier in the campaign and then teaming with Greubel for a gold medal on Sunday that surely made her resume look a whole lot better.
“I had no idea what was in store for me this season,” Williams said. “I just wanted to come in with positive energy and help out. This is the first time I’ve been a part of a true team sport, and there’s someone else counting on you. You can’t let that person down, and that’s what drives me. It’s very important to give everything I have whenever I’m on that start line.”
That seemed to leave Jones, Emily Azevedo and Katie Eberling as the candidates for the final spot on the push crew. Jones won silvers with Greubel and Meyers driving this season. Eberling also had a strong resume, with world championship medals in the past and three World Cup bronzes this winter.
In the end, Jones was the call.
If you remember, Jones faced criticism before the London games, with allegations she was picked because of her looks and marketing potential:
Judging from this year’s performances, Lolo Jones seems to have only a slim chance of winning an Olympic medal in the 100-meter hurdles and almost no possibility of winning gold.
Still, 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.
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She barely made the 2012 Olympic team with a third-place finish at the United States trials. Nineteen hurdlers internationally have posted faster times this year than Jones’s best, 12.74 seconds, including the other two Americans in the field. Not all of those faster hurdlers will compete in London, but enough of them will to seemingly minimize Jones’s chances.
She placed fourth in London.
As far as coverage of Jones making the bobsled team this year, well, if you search for Lauryn Williams — the Summer Olympian that was a “lock” — pictures of Lolo Jones come up. Once the games begin, we’ll see if NBC covers the entire team or if their focus is on Jones.