Have you ever seen the cinematic masterpiece that is Cool Runnings? In case you haven’t, the premise is the almost the same here as it was in that movie, except John Candy isn’t the coach, Jamaica is not the team’s home country, and this is women’s bobsledding. Other than that, it’s a spot-on copy of sorts.
This story, specifically, deals with Lolo Jones‘ pursuit of Olympic success, which she’s not been able to achieve in two Olympic Games to date. The 31-year-old Louisiana native has represented the United States in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London, where she’s not enjoyed much success at all. Perhaps notoriety and failure would be a better descriptors.
Much like the movie, Jones endured a fall in her 2008 Olympics appearance when she clipped a hurdle on her way to a nearly assured gold medal. Unfortunately, that small trip cost her a medal, but has potentially given her a shot at participating in the Winter Olympics as part of the U.S. Women’s bobsled team.
Jones is a great athlete and there aren’t many people who could advance a valid argument to counter that. However, she’s stepped into a foreign land in bobsledding and there are a few reasons why she may not be successful.
An obvious observation anyone can make. Jones has only been around bobsledding for a number of months. She’s not spent a considerable amount of time training and honing the specific skills that are needed to compete on such a large stage in an unfamiliar sport. She’s participated in several qualifying events that the committee looks at in its selection process, but that is nowhere near the pressure she will experience when she is officially representing the U.S. for the world to see.
In any sport, repetition and routine are keys for dealing with pressure. Routine allows you to find a place of familiarity in a drastically different environment. No matter what happens or where you are, an athlete can always rely on their training and routine to provide a sense of comfort. With little time for reps, it’s hard to say how much Jones will be able to channel upon this when it really counts.
Sure, the training and conditioning is a given. She probably adapted her training routine as a sprinter to allow her to develop some sport specific training for her potential bobsledding career, but that’s not what is to be discussed here.
Pushers, as they are called, are generally heavier individuals. Jones, in fact, was not, weighing approximately 125 pounds prior to deciding to compete for a spot on the bobsledding team. She would have to gain weight, and gain weight she did. Reportedly on a 9,000-calorie diet, Jones beefed up to 150 pounds and is exactly where she needs to be.
The problem comes with knowing how your body is going to react to the additional weight. It takes a bit of a reclamation process trying to figure out what your new body can do, how it will react to commands, etc. This could prove to be problematic, resulting in another moving target of sorts in Jones’ pursuit of a medal at this year’s Winter Olympics.
Lolo Jones is a virgin and proud of it. Good for her. That’s certainly admirable. However, it seems like she uses this fun-filled fact (?) for attention a little too much, much the same with all of her other social media exploits, from posting her bobsledding paycheck to her online dating updates.
It’s funny. Jones originally stated that one of her biggest motivators for jumping into bobsledding was to escape some of the distractions she had while running on the track. It’s seems like it won’t be too much of a stretch for those same distractions, and maybe some new ones, to reemerge. Not only can this become a detriment for Jones, but it could affect her teammates as well.
If she’s chosen to represent the United States in Russia this February, best of luck to her. It’s still quite easy to step back and see everything that is stacked against her, but perhaps that’s what pushes her to excel. We will find out in short order one way or the other.
Vinny Gala is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.