Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones has been the subject of several sports features this week. First Monday night (May 21), an ESPN documentary about her life aired on the sports network, then Tuesday (May 22), HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” did a profile on Jones.
In the ESPN piece, Jones details her poor upbringing in Des Moines, Iowa, talking about how she was shoplifting at an early age – but not for fun, like some teens. She was shoplifting food.
“I definitely would say, by sixth grade, I was a professional shoplifter. And not because I wanted to. I’m not going out to shoplift earrings or clothes or shoes like the average teenager,” says Jones. “I was shoplifting frozen dinners at a grocery store. I could shoplift four frozen dinners, easily.”
Jones’ family was living in the local Salvation Army and using food stamps, struggles which gave her such a drive to succeed. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lolo was leading the finals of the women’s 100-meter hurdles when she hit the second-to-last hurdle, stumbled and finished seventh.
But that’s not the hardest thing she’s had to endure. Jones tells HBO’s Mary Carillo that the hardest thing has been remaining a virgin until she is married.
“It’s just something, a gift that I want to give to my husband. But please, understand, this journey has been hard,” says Jones. “If there’s virgins out there, I’m going to let them know, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life — harder than training for the Olympics, harder than graduating from college, has been to stay a virgin before marriage.”
“I’ve been tempted,” Jones continues. “I’ve had guys tell me, ‘You know, if you have sex, it will help you run faster.'”
You can cheer Jones on this summer, as she tries again for what will likely be the 29-year-old’s last chance at Olympic gold. Jones will have to qualify at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. in late June, hoping for a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team for the London games.