If you followed the Olympic games this summer in London, you probably watched or at least heard of Lolo Jones and what she has (or has not) done in life. Her family struggled to make ends meet when she was younger, but she over came adversity and eventually made the U.S. Olympic Track Team. That feat in itself is amazing, but by the standards of any true competitor; it’s not good enough. Not many people can say that they are among the best in the world at what they do, but it’s all or nothing. No one cares who gets fourth place. Unless you medal, you essentially have no basis to prove critics you’re a dominant force. She is one of the most publicized athletes in the Olympic Sports world, yet she has never won a medal at an Olympic or world outdoor championship.
She makes the news not necessarily because she can run a swift 100 m hurdles. She makes the news because she, in a way, convinces people to feel bad for her and then when she makes it to the big stage to show off her 100 m hurdle run, she doesn’t win. The build up is there: she’s got the fans as support and the critics as motivation. When you build such a brand to ultimately under perform on the biggest stage, you’ve blown it. PR outlets thrive not only on the successful Olympians, but also on the prominent Olympians that bite the dust. Lolo is unfortunately the latter. When this happens, the brand is then tarnished until you either bring home a medal or find the cure to cancer. The takeaway lesson may be to keep quiet until your medal can speak for itself.
I bring this up because Lolo Jones is one of many that resonates with the title of my blog. Lolo is no newcomer to the idea of finishing fourth or swinging multiple times and still not hitting your “goal.” Her PR moves early in her career could and should have been avoided. She attracted and still attracts unnecessary attention. What I do admire is her dedication to the sport and her drive to fully embrace the idea of starting with nothing and ending having completed the American dream. As a competitive athlete, I can understand her drive to seek the title of being the best at what you do. I grew up with two older brothers and they instilled in me the, “if you’re not first you’re last” mentality. While my athletic endeavors will probably fall short of being at an Olympic caliber, I still tend to always play to win in every game that I partake.
Recently, Lolo decided to start training with the U.S. bobsled team in Lake Placid, N.Y. As Lolo ventures into the bobsledding world, she brings with her a questioned reputation that she has the potential of answering with a medal. I’m pulling for the gal. I enjoy seeing people overcome adversity to eventually reach their dreams, especially when that victory is on behalf of the United States. Who knows, maybe this is her calling that is hitting her just a little later in life. Go get ‘em Lolo!