All Articles Tagged "lolo jones"
Things haven’t always been easy for track and field star Lolo Jones. After missing out on a medal at two consecutive Olympic games, Jones is turning over a new leaf. She’s the newest member of the U.S. national bobsled team and has hopes that this new venture will earn her a spot on the winner’s podium at the 2014 Winter Games. Here, Jones talks about how she’s reinventing herself and empowering others to do the same.
On learning her new sport, bobsledding:
At first I thought bobsled was just going to be something fun and refreshing for me, so I’m shocked that I really do love it a lot. I’m so passionate about track, so I never imagined that I would ever say I’m really passionate about bobsled, too. I’m shocked at how much it has helped me get stronger not only physically, but mentally as well. It’s done wonders.
On rumors that she’s just “desperate” for an Olympic medal:
They completely took my words out of context. When I heard those rumors, I was pretty frustrated because it was like here we go again with things being taken out of context. If you’re pursing an Olympic sport, who’s not trying to get a medal? I just stated the obvious and I said I was desperate but it was said in much more joking way.
You can check more of the Lolo Jones interview out over on Essence. She discusses where track fits in her life, her spirituality and her new “Degree” campaign.
Popularity And “Pretty” Contest: How Does Olympic Boxer Claressa Shields Win Gold But Not Receive One Endorsement?
In her eight-year boxing career, Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields has never lost a single match and yet she still gets no respect. From Mother Jones:
“Maybe you remember Claressa “T-Rex” Shields: At 17, she was the youngest boxer in last summer’s Olympics, the first games to ever let women spar. Aggressive, spunky, and intensely focused, she trounced a Russian opponent twice her age in the finals to return home to Flint, Michigan, with a gold medal. “I wrapped it around my hand when I went to sleep,” Shields says. “I had this fear that when I woke up the medal was going to be silver.” Yet unlike fellow gold medalist Gabby Douglas, the teen gymnast who is expected to rake in $8-$12 million from sponsorships, Shields has received no national endorsement deals (though a local car lot gave her a custom black and gold Camaro). “I think because women’s boxing is new, I guess,” she says. “I don’t really know.”
If you have missed seeing Shields fight at the Olympics – or anywhere else for that matter- please stop reading right now and go search YouTube for some of her previous performances. The girl is phenomenal. And no shade to Gabby Douglas, but while we were, and still continue to, celebrate one little black girl’s historic achievements in one sport, we totally forgot about another black teen girl, about the same age as Douglas, who too made history at the Olympics. Not only is she the first African-American woman to win gold in boxing, but the first woman, period. Like Douglas, she too has an equally compelling story about adversity and triumph, including being both a black youth from inner city Detroit and a survivor of sexual assault. But yet and still you tell me that Shields has not been asked to cover one Wheaties box? Not to sound like an alarmist, but I really do believe that it is a national embarrassment that this young gladiator, who has worked hard, and with success, in service of our country is not reaping the financial benefits.
As Shields humbly said in the Mother Jones article, women’s Olympic boxing is pretty new, which might explain her lack of endorsements, however, but at least one boxer has managed to capture the attention of corporate America. Fellow women’s boxer and 2016 Olympic hopeful Mikaela Mayer recently became Dr. Pepper’s official spokesperson. In the soft drink’s television commercial, Mayer, who prior to boxing used to work as a full-time model says, “Millions of girls are told they’re pretty, but not many end up becoming a model. And even fewer decide to put their face in front of someone who wants to rearrange it. And now, instead of fighting for a cover shot, I’m Mikaela Mayer and I’m one of a kind.” Indeed, Mayer is one of a kind. Not only is she a beautiful former model but she is also a serious contender in the women’s boxing world. According to Team USA.org, Mayer has a laundry list of boxing achievements including being the 2011 National Golden Gloves Champion, being a gold medalist at the 2012 AMBC Continental Championships, and holding a bronze medal at the 2012 AIBA World Championships.
But despite the impressive resume and pretty much being favored to win a spot on the US Women’s boxing team, her bronze medal at the 2012 AIBA ended her bid to compete in the first Olympic boxing competition for women. Guess who did make the squad in 2012? Shields. And she won a gold medal. According to the Mother Jones article, Shield is currently training for not only the USA Boxing National Championship but the Rio Olympics in 2016, where she will be defending her current world title. She is also preparing for college. To borrow words from Mayer and Dr. Pepper, I definitely think that makes Shields “one of a kind.” But to simply bypass the first champion of an inaugural Olympic sport in favor of another athlete, who while accomplished, has not proven herself at the level of Shields, is bewildering to me. I mean, would you do a television commercial with the runner up of the Miss America beauty pageant? I think not.
We’ve seen this scenario played out many times before in women’s sports. If you’ll recall, during the 2012 Olympic games, Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells, silver and bronze medalists spoke openly about having their stories trampled over while the media hype machine favored Lolo Jones, who only placed fourth at the Olympic hurdles race. In an interview with NBC Sports, Harper said this of the virgin/model/sprinter:
“I feel I had a pretty good story — knee surgery two months before Olympic trials in 2008, to make the team but 0.007, not have a contract … working three jobs, living in a frat house, trying to make it work. Coming off running in someone else’s shoes getting the gold medal. Uhhh, I’d say I was pretty interesting. Coming from East St. Louis…I just felt as if I worked really hard to represent my country in the best way possible, and to come way with the gold medal, and to honestly seem as if, because their favorite didn’t win all of sudden it’s just like, ‘Were going to push your story aside, and still gonna push this one.’ That hurt. It did. It hurt my feelings. But I feel as if I showed I can deal with the pressure, I came back, and I think you kinda got to respect it a little bit now.”
Harper and Wells thought their medals would earn them respect, but instead they were labeled and dismissed as haters. And that’s a pity considering that they had a legitimate point: It takes a considerable amount of dedication and sacrifice in order to rise to the level of Olympic athlete. Harper was not lying when she said she lived in a frat house – it was the only thing that she and her husband, who too is an Olympic athlete, could afford while training full-time for the 2008 games in which she won her gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles. So I can imagine that for athletes like Harper, who have reached the highest degree, an Olympic gold should warrant a few chances to recuperate, if not profit, off of all the time, energy, physical health and personal money you put into this mission. From a personal perspective, I can’t imagine slaving away on a project at work and have my supervisor come along and give accolades to another employee, who didn’t carry the project to fruition, all because my boss likes him/her better.
It is kind of depressing that even in the world of women’s sports – a place that implies some sort of exclusion from sexist influence – standard troupes of femininity, over skill and accomplishments, still matter in what is marketable. Not only are athletes like Shields, Harper and Wells being shut out of opportunities to capitalize off of their hardwork, but athletes like Mayer, Jones and in some respects, Gabby Douglas are being paraded around by both the media and corporate advertising as some sort of poster children for what a female athlete is supposed to look like. And that suggests to me that the general public still can not fully take women in sports seriously. I mean, how can we celebrate these women for breaking barriers and making history in the world of sports while using the other hand to reinforce subtle messages that your personal appeal, more than likely physical, will always trump your talent?
In honor of Black History Month, MadameNoire is sending a daily salute to the African American women who inspire us every day of the year. Today we’re recognizing the black women athletes who make us proud everywhere from the tennis courts to the track, the balance beams, and the swimming pool.
Venus and Serena Williams
Venus and Serena Williams took the tennis world by storm when the two brown girls from Compton with braid and beads showed up on the courts and dominated their opponents. Venus has been ranked World No. 1 in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association on three separate occasions, and when she was named so in 2002 for the first time, she became the first African American woman to achieve be given then title during the Open Era. Venus is also a four-time Olympic gold medalist and as of February 2013, is ranked number 22 in the world in singles.
Like her big sister, Serena has also ranked up a number of World No. 1 rankings — five to be exact since July 2002. Serena is the only female player to have won over $40 million in prize money and she is regardedas one of the greatest tennis players of all time, having won 30 Grand Slam titles and four Olympic Gold medals.
A lot of my friends thought I was kidding — or crazy –when they heard that my fiancé and I were not having sex until we got married.
It was a decision we had made separately before we even started dating. The response I got from people who knew of our decision confirmed my suspicion that sex is no longer widely viewed as an option in dating relationships, but a requirement and is actually considered by most as a prerequisite to marriage. This is why celebrity couples like Meagan Good and Devon Franklin made headlines when they announced they were engaged and celibate. We already knew that Meagan had committed to abstain until marriage, but for some odd reason that commitment was expected to be disregarded when in a serious relationship. We believe that celibate women can’t possibly get engaged and when they are, it’s shocking.
In fact, for some odd reason, many believe that celibate women — especially the Christian ones — are sitting in convents, wrapped in nun outfits, proudly announcing they’re married to Jesus.
I first noticed this in my own life when people would ask me if my fiance and I kiss. They figured if we weren’t fornicating then we weren’t kissing either. Granted, there are some people who do wait until their wedding day to have their first kiss and five million people watch them eat each other’s faces. These couples fit squarely into the fallacious stereotype that people who wait until marriage to have sex are young, naive, and childlike.
We’re comfortable with those stereotypes because we’ve been brainwashed to believe that having indiscriminate sex is normal and adults who are celibate are not normal.
Personally, I was faced with my own erroneous beliefs when I learned that my then-boyfriend (now husband) was a virgin. Though I met him at church, I was still thoroughly shocked. I was celibate, but I didn’t think I knew any men who were real-life virgins. “But…you’re handsome, you have a great personality, you’re educated, you have a solid career, you have your own house, you’re over 30…” my list of reasons why he couldn’t possibly be a virgin went on and on. Unbeknownst to me, I had internalized the propaganda that no man hits 25 without dropping trou unless he looks and acts like Steve Carell in “40-Year-Old Virgin”.
Sadly, many people in the nation share this flawed thinking. We are taught that abstaining from sex means abstaining from living. Celibate people — especially virgins — are expected to be prude, unattractive, homely, recluses who are probably asexual. When celebrities like Tim Tebow and Lolo Jones come along with their “I’m a virgin” confession thus publicly catapulting all negative stereotypes into oblivion, the press doesn’t know how to react.
Do you remember when Tim Tebow was chosen by Jockey for an endorsement contract and he was dubbed “the unlikeliest underwear model ever”? Though, many athletes endorse undergarments, apparently, the fact that this athlete wasn’t tossing off his briefs in the presence of groupies made him an odd choice.
In a borderline bitter and excessively harsh piece on Lolo in the New York Times published recently, author Jere Longman said:
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.
In 2009, Jones posed nude for ESPN the Magazine. This year, she appeared on the cover of Outside magazine seeming to wear a bathing suit made of nothing but strategically placed ribbon. At the same time, she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian.
In that last line, you can practically see the sarcasm dripping off the page as though virginity means anything other than “never had sex”. As far as her Christianity, that’s for another article, but I will say that most of the beef with Lolo on the “virgin and Christian” front isn’t coming from Christians or virgins. The loudest criticism is from those who wish to portray Christians and virgins in a particular fashion and are outright pissed that Lolo Jones isn’t the embarrassing caricature often portrayed on television and instead is actually a normal athlete who happens to refrain from sex. Furthermore, just because she is a virgin doesn’t mean she isn’t a vixen. The term simply means “sexually attractive” and, like we try to explain to rapists, finding a woman Hot doesn’t mean she owes you sex.
It’s not just Lolo Jones either who is criticized for not fitting some arbitrary definition. When Meagan Good announced she was celibate, the tongue-wagging reached epic proportion. One publication asked:
“How exactly do you balance that with being a self-proclaimed party animal and being slizzed on the club scene in [skimpy] outfits all the time?”
Balance what? Not having sex with still having typical Hollywood rich-chicks fun? What activity automatically means sex…except sex? Partying doesn’t. Modeling for an underwear company doesn’t. Even posing nude in ESPN’s famous “Body Issue” doesn’t. Just because someone does these things yet refrains from sex doesn’t make him or her a fraud. It just make the naysayers look like imbeciles.
In my opinion, the instances when someone’s sex life or chastity makes news simply serves to expose the ridiculous and sad ideas that prevail in this nation. When Jada Pinkett and Will Smith talk about enjoying sex with each other, that makes headlines (and draws ire) because we believe that marriage is the end of sex. And when someone who isn’t married isn’t having sex, that makes news (and also draws criticism) because apparently we’re all animals running around foaming at the mouth for our next hump. It’s so backward and bizarre.
Celibacy is not a way of dress or a way of speaking or a description reserved for a man or woman that nobody wants to sleep with. Being celibate simply means abstaining from sex — and there’s absolutely nothing abnormal about that.
Do you think people have preconceived notions about what celibacy looks like?
Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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This hasn’t been Olympic Hurdler Lolo Jones’ week and ironically it has less to do with her not bringing home a medal after placing fourth in her 100-meter race last night, and more to do with what happens when the pretty girl doesn’t live up to the pedestal society placed her on simply because of her looks.
Let me explain that a bit. Lolo is a stellar athlete. The 30-year-old’s sheer participation in this year’s games tells you that, as do the Indoor world champion medals and records she holds. Is she the best hurdler on the American team? I’m not qualified to judge that, but I do know she’s received more mainstream attention than any other woman on the American track team. New York Times writer Jere Longman would say that’s because of a carefully calculated effort on Lolo and her PR team’s part. I think American bias plays a bigger role in that coverage than the columnist acknowledges.
In his piece, “For Lolo Jones, Everything Is Image,” the author wrote:
“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.”
If you recall, Lolo has spoken quite openly about her virginity over the years—a choice I mentioned before I didn’t think was wise because it invites the very type of backlash exhibited here. Longman wasn’t writing this piece as an op-ed on sexism in sports coverage, he wrote it because he was disappointed that he expected Lolo to lose her race yesterday, which she did. For him, that confirmed his assumption that she thinks she’s too swexy for her sports bra. I say that because he opened the article with, “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.” He then outlines the so-called scandalous endeavors she’s been involved in off the track, like posing nude for ESPN and being nearly naked on the cover of Outside magazine, then follows it up with, “If there is a box to check off, Jones has checked it. Except for the small part about actually achieving Olympic success as a hurdler.”
The crux of Longman’s article is Lolo had no right to make us interested in her if she wasn’t going to deliver the goods, better yet the gold. I think this backlash is proof of one simple thing: when you’re hot (because of your looks and your skill) everyone loves you, and when you’re not, the praise and the recognition fades as though it was never there. Longman would have no problem with Lolo’s image if she actually won. Yet his argument still isn’t that Lolo should have spent more time training than taking pics and that’s because he can’t argue that. Lolo did train—for four years—to participate in the Olympics this year. Unfortunately, that still hasn’t stopped the athlete from being called the Anna Kournikova of track, a slight that brought the hurdler to tears on the “Today Show” as she relayed her feelings on the backlash, saying:
“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.”
“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.”
There’s something to be said for a person who has their beliefs and sticks to them…or they at least try. Some celebs have made a vow to hold out on giving up their “V card” (virginity card, folks) until they’re married or until they meet the “right one.” Others have tried to stick to these beliefs…and stumbled along the way but hey, I guess they held on as long as they could!
See who had or has held on to their goodies….