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Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones was named to the U.S. women’s bobsled team, putting her in contention for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Jones, 30, started bobsled training last month. She follows former U.S. Olympic track athletes such as Edwin Moses, Willie Gault and Willie Davenport and football player Herschel Walker, who also switched sports and used their speed to push start the sled on the icy track.
Jones is joined as one of six push athletes on the U.S. team by sprinter Tianna Madison, who was part of the world record-setting U.S. team that won a gold medal in the women’s 400-meter relay in London. The U.S. selection trials started last week in Lake Placid, New York.
“They are just tenacious competitors that want to win at everything they do,” U.S. bobsled coach Todd Hays said of Jones and Madison in an e-mailed statement. “It wouldn’t matter if it was Ping-Pong, checkers or bobsled, they still want to be the best.”
Jones failed to medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the last two Olympics, tripping on the next-to-last hurdle while in the lead at the 2008 Beijing Games and finishing fourth in the final this year in London.
She was criticized on television by U.S. teammates Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells, who won the silver and bronze medals in London and said they were frustrated Jones received more media coverage, endorsements and attention off the track than they did. Jones was on the cover of Time magazine before the London Games, appeared on television talk shows, and spoke openly about being a virgin, seeking redemption from 2008 and having been so poor that she lived in a Salvation Army basement as a youth.
Jones, Madison and the other four women’s push athletes will be competing for three spots during the World Cup season.
“We will have a strategy to rotate athletes in the sleds throughout the season based on what track we’re on and how they fit with particular drivers,” Hays said. “The good news is that we also have three drivers that will be fighting for the gold medal at each stop.”
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