Lolo Jones, the Best of America

Life’s hurdles are not obstacles but ‘opportunities to overcome’

I just became a huge fan of Lolo Jones. Actually I’m in love with her. I don’t know how I’ve missed out until this morning, when I watched her win her 100 meter hurdle heat to advance to tomorrow’s semifinals. I’m probably not going to be able to write about anything else today.

In the Beijing Olympics, this sunny girl from Des Moines was favored to win the 100 meter hurdles but, while she was surging to the finish, she tripped and came in seventh. She’s won some major titles since then but she’s probably spent most of the past four years focused on redemption in London.

Like many great athletes, Lolo struggled as a kid. Her dad was in prison, and she briefly lived in the basement of an Iowa church. In high school, her mom had to move to a town with no track, so Lolo lived with other families and attended appropriately named Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. Not an easy life. Full of hurdles, you could say.

But as Lolo tweeted the other day, hurdles are just “opportunities to overcome.”

She’s beautiful, she’s achingly cool, she takes her Christian faith seriously—giving prize money back to her high school and her community in Iowa.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” she said quietly to herself as she got set in the starting blocks today.

And she’s funny: She sent a tweet to actress Rashida Jones today—who looks a lot like her—thanking her for running today’s heat for her so she could save energy for the semifinals.

A few of her other tweets from the Olympic Village:

“Italy’s in next building.Could hear shouts of joy from open windows when they won… Either that or their espresso machine finally got fixed”

“USA Men’s Archery lost the gold medal to Italy but that’s ok, we are Americans… When’s da Gun shooting competition?”

That last one got some criticism from oversensitive twitter police (I guess we can’t even mention guns anymore?), but Lolo, by being herself, is representing the best of America:  hard-working and happy despite some bad shakes and a tough start. As a runner I was never a fan of the hurdles, but that race pretty much sums up life the best:  One thing after another gets in our way, often just when we hit our stride, and like Lolo, you just got to keep going.

You can see the womens 100 meter hurdle semifinals tomorrow at 2:15pm eastern time.

Read about today’s race here (1 page).

Here’s a clip about Lolo Jones using her “failures as motivation” (3:27).

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