Friday, January 24, 2014

Why Is Everyone Mad That Lolo Jones Made the U.S. Olympic Bobsled team?

As Team USA gets set for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, sizing their ugly sweaters and finalizing their rosters, one sport has already seen its fair share of controversy.

With the Opening Ceremonies scheduled for Feb. 7, Team USA has been hard at work to put together a collection of world-class athletes to represent the red, white and blue in Russia.  USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation CEO Darrin Steele has probably worked the hardest.

Steele completed a four-woman bobsled team to head to Sochi, placing USA Track and Field star Lolo Jones in the third and last available push athlete spot on Sunday. In doing so, he kicked up quite a media storm.

Critics, athletes and fans alike took to their preferred method of slander, blasting the team's decision on Jones, calling it a publicity stunt and insinuating that the team was playing favorites.  Jones is no stranger to the spotlight. She's been featured in ESPN's The Body Issue magazine, is sponsored most prominently by McDonald's and ASICS, and oh yeah, has competed in the Summer Olympic Games twice.  Which is a good jumping off point for critics.

Jones, heavily favored in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, finished seventh after hitting the next-to-last hurdle in the 100m hurdle final.  In the 2012 London Olympic Games, she finished fourth in the event.  She has never won an Olympic medal.

However, she has won three World Championship gold medals. Her latest? In 2013, she competed at the FIBT World Championships in the mixed team bobsled, and secured gold for the U.S.

"I haven't heard anyone making the argument about Lolo not being a better athlete right now, a better brakeman for the team," Steele told The Associated Press. "I don't think I've come across that one time.  I've heard a lot about history and all that's nice. But who's going to provide the best results for the U.S. team in Sochi? That's the bottom line. And I'll have that debate with anyone who wants to have it."

Tough to argue that.  But that won't stop people from trying, especially the athletes in competition with Jones.

"I should have been working harder on gaining Twitter followers than gaining muscle mas," said Emily Azevedo.  Her and teammate Katie Eberling were "snubbed" from Team USA.

At first, it was thought Jones was attempted bobsled as a publicity stunt of her own.  She made the roster in 2012, and has put in the work to be where she is at today.  Jones is marketable, and Jones is proven.  She has made Team USA, and should be more determined than ever to bring home the gold.  So what's the issue here?

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