One person's thoughts may change the world
23 hundredths of a second is an eternity in track time, especially on the biggest stage of all, the 20012 Olympics. That was the difference between gold for Olympic hurdles champion Sally Pearson and Lo Lo Jones, who came in fourth. Jones as you recall hit the ninth hurdle at the 2008 Olympic games, after being favored to win it. I watched that race, it was heartbreaking to see such an accomplished athlete hitting that hurdle and being passed up by all who were giving her chase. She had it won, it was all hers, she could see it, then….nothing. There is no medal for 7th place. I felt for her as she curled up and put her hands on her face on the track, a scene that many will never forget.
Lo Lo’s journey to the Olympics has been a challenging one. A childhood that was interrupted by moving from place to place, school to school. A father who wasn’t always responsible. A mother who had to work to maintain her family. A tough life for a young lady and her siblings who had no control of what family she was born into, just like the rest of us. But, she persevered. Used track as a means to get herself out of her situation. She ran at LSU and while working and running became a champion in the hurdles. She ran in the European track circuits. She ran herself into success.
At the same time, something else was noticed about her. Her beauty. Now I’m saying that with a grain of salt because, what is beauty? No doubt she’s an attractive woman, but, her beauty became something of a marketable item. Something that can be exploited beyond track. The machine began to build up behind her. A Beyonce type machine ( not as big but similar). Product and media driven. I’ll get to all that later.
Then came Beijing and the 2008 Olympics. Her coming out party. A global event. A validation of money that was spent telling her story and advertisers waiting to jump on the “hype wagon”. Advertisers lining up to promote their products through her beauty and her story. Then suddenly, poof. Gone, all at the ninth hurdle. She finished, but in 7th place. In an instant all that she worked for went out at the 9th hurdle. In addition to that, Lo Lo had to endure back surgery which was to correct nerve issue in her back that was preventing her from raising her leg over the hurdles consistently. She recovered and had to start all over again.
There was an ESPN special done on her, and it told her story quite eloquently. It was an inspiring story, one which I was not aware of and in that moment made me even a bigger fan of hers. I wanted her to win. I drank the kool-aid, just like she did. I hate to say that because you have to remember, the machine is still there, and the machine is hungry.
Then comes the 2012 Olympics. Lo Lo’s comeback story. She’s competing again, Working herself back from the surgery. Competing again, but this time, she’s not the favorite, which makes it an even more compelling story. Will she make the cut? Will she make the U. S. Olympic team? Even the announcers had their doubt when the race in Oregon took place. “This is a very strong field, she will have to run one of her best races to get to London”, one announcer said. All the training, injury, mental anguish, all for a few seconds of glory, or pain. And, the pressure. Pressure that no one knows of. Pressure from the machine full of advertisers, waiting for her to pounce upon her chance. In fact, she has already benefited from the machine, getting several contracts for advertisement. Will she do it? Most of us have never experienced such pressure, especially after coming from such a humble background. This is a race for her future, or is it?
For advertisers, Lo Lo was the next media darling for track. She was going to be bigger than Flo-Jo. Lo Lo’s name even sounded like it. A hard luck story from a beautiful woman, she will be able to sell almost anything, even to drink her bath water from her track shoes. There is that word again, beautiful. Hmmmm, we will get back to that, anyway, The machine was spinning, big time, on a global front. Lo Lo is going to be big, but she’s got to make the cut.
She made it, but barely. That race was so close I didn’t even watch who won. I was focused on Lo Lo, just as everyone else was. The winner? Was the the defending hurdles champion from the 2008 Olympics, Dawn Harper from a challenging town itself, East St. Louis. I don’t know Dawn’s story, but, if she came from East St. Louis to eventually run for the UCLA Bruins and win the gold at the 2008 Olympics and come within inches of winning it again in London in 2012. She achieved silver. A remarkable feat. In my opinion, she is also beautiful as well, but, there is no hype wagon for Dawn. No marketing machine behind her. She’s “just” a successful athlete who represented her country and has a gold and silver to back it up.
So now Lo Lo makes it, securing the third qualifying spot on the team. And as I’m watching the Olympics, I see a commercial that featured her. “Wow”, I said to myself. “She’s already got a commercial and the race has not even been run yet, interesting”. Lo Lo makes it to the finals. The race is run, Sally Pearson gets the gold, Dawn gets the silver, and Kellie Wells takes the bronze. The difference between Kellie’s time and Lo Lo’s time is .10 of a second.
But before I continue making my point, lets talk about Kellie Wells. She has a story as well. A challenging one. Wells also used track as an escape, her step father raped her repeatedly at the age of 16, after being mentally abused by him. Practice was refuge for her, only to prolong the wait for more abuse. She finally packed up and left home only to hear one month later that her mother and rapist was killed in a car accident. Wow, heart breaking. Heartbreaking in a way that makes a lose in a 100 meter hurdles race seem insignificant. So now what do you do? What would you do? Quit? Give up? This woman has what many on this planet don’t understand, and that is… COURAGE. I admire her most of all. And, I think she is beautiful too. When they would show a close up of her face, I saw something different in her. A focus that was different. A focus with an edge to it, hardened like a Samurai sword. Edgy, tough, and determined. Sort of a chip on your shoulder edge. I like that about her. So she received a scholarship from Hampton University. The rest is now history. Now, embolden by her victory, she wants to help other out of their situation that she fought her way out on her own. This woman is awesome!
So when it came time to talk about their medals, Dawn and Kellie let out how they felt. There stories weren’t told. They were looked over. The hype machine wasn’t behind them so they really didn’t matter to the media that much. They had every right to feel the way they did, yet, they didn’t let it take away from basking in their own glory.
Then their is my other favorite. The one with a pretty smile, wonderful articulation, and frankly put, “Miss Bad Ass”. Don’t let that petite body and that sweet smile fool you, she’s a killer on the track, trust me. People like her don’t quit. You may be able to beat them once, but, they will be back, bigger, badder, and defer. And, even better, she’s tapped into her faith as a means to execute her ability, calling it a “Gift from God”. I’m speaking of none other than Allyson Felix. Below are her exploits from three different Olympics:
|Gold||2012 London||200 m|
|Gold||2012 London||4×100 m relay|
|Gold||2012 London||4×400 m relay|
|Gold||2008 Beijing||4×400 m relay|
|Silver||2008 Beijing||200 m|
|Silver||2004 Athens||200 m|
If you noticed, she persevered. She did not settle for the Silver in two other Olympics, that wasn’t enough. She wanted it. She wanted more. She wanted to compete, and she used her faith and her work ethic to get it. Four Gold medals over all, and two Silver, not bad Allyson Felix. And guess what? She’s beautiful as well. Fine, hot, intelligent, and happy. Happy about her place in life, on the planet, and in the Olympics. She let her legs and her work ethic to the talking, along with that great smile. There were so many great pictures of her I could hardly pick the best one.
I could go on and on. I may even write about more heroic efforts by these athletes. And, that what I wrote this blog for. These female athletes. That’s what they are first. But, their beauty abounds in many different ways. Lo Lo’s story was a good one, but so are others. Many of these woman had to find a different path to take to get to the top of their athletic profession. They worked hard, endured, saw their way through family and social issues and finally achieved whatever goal they were after. Lo Lo drank the Koolaid, unfortunately. The hype wagon got behind her( not her fault by the way), and it overlooked woman of equal stature in background and athleticism. In their wake left many question of their interpretation of beauty, and the marketing of an athlete before the medals have been won. Lo Lo will probably make more money than all of them, but it won’t be because of her exploits in track. Track got her to a certain point, and her looks got her even further. You may have thought this was a LoLo Jones blog, but only partially. Hopefully, you will expand your mind on the essence of beauty, its,articulation, style, grace, courage, all the things that lay the ground works of faith, and finally what determines it. Only then can you expand your mind, and not be fixated on what someone else says what beauty is to you. Beauty is what you think it is, not what I think it is. Beauty is also what you expose yourself to, to expand your narrow mind. It was the media and the potential marking of LoLo that got their attention, her story, her looks, and it all rode on 23 hundredths of a second to the promise land….
Oh, the 400×4 Gold medal Olympic Champions…
All great athletes, and beautiful black woman. I’d better start working on my six-pack… and so should you…
Peace Mickey Fickey…
Oh my goodness, I forgot my other favorite.. Carmelita Jeter!!!! Fast, talented, determined, and ….. Hot!!