Olympic track star Lolo Jones finished fourth in yesterday’s 100-meter hurdles, but it wasn’t missing out on a medal by one-tenth of a second–and even though she tweeted that she had a “broken heart”–that made her cry, it was the sexist reporter from the New York Times who bashed her and all her hard work just because she’s got sex appeal.
…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.
Fighting back the tears, Jones opened up about how unfair–and untrue–this story was:
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. They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds. I just thought that that was crazy because I worked six days a week, every day, for four years for a 12-second race and the fact that they just tore me apart, which is heartbreaking.
Jones went on to say that being compared to Anna Kournikova–someone who has also been accused of caring more about her looks than her accomplishments–was shameful:
They didn’t even do their research, calling me the Anna Kournikova of track. I have the American record. I am the American record holder indoors, I have two world indoor titles. Just because I don’t boast about these things, I don’t think I should be ripped apart by media. 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.
But, in true Olympic spirit, Jones said that her goal is to be a positive role model and help young girls realize that they can do anything they set their minds to:
Putting your heart out there, obviously it opens you up to a lot of negativity, but at the same time if I could just reach somebody out there. 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.
Jones may not have been the favored athlete at this year’s Games, but hey, she qualified for the Olympics. So why shouldn’t she get media and marketing attention? Like it or not, sex does sell. And Jones is a beautiful woman with positive energy and a great presence–things that advertisers and the media gravitate to. And so what if she opened up about her personal life, including her rough childhood and the fact that she is still a virgin at the age of 30? That just makes her more real and more of a role model. And hey, it’s not like she ever appeared drunk on the Today show or anything, so let’s give her due credit for all of her hard work. She has overcome amazing odds to be at the Olympics.
So suck it, NY Times.