You probably have never heard of Lolo Jones, why would you? She is just another hurdler not named Sally Pearson and she isn’t even competing for Australia.
But I’m telling you, you would want to know this American Olympian.
She is religious, funny, and controversial and she represents a group of individuals that includes people like me. A personality through and through, she is a cultural phenomenon and she is also good at her job.
I first noticed her a few months ago on twitter. Someone retweeted one of her tweets, which reads: ‘Stop tweetin me over Pretty Woman.If u can’t see why I’m bitter about a Hooker getting a Millionaire than u cant see my crumpled Lottery Tix’s’. Even though she can’t spell, the tweet still made me chuckle. And then I did something I am not entirely proud of, I admit I was so superficial that I followed her because I thought she looks pretty.
I am glad I followed her though. Her tweets are unlike most athletes I follow, are athletes even supposed to do funny tweets? Probably not if you ask Nick D’arcy or Steph Rice, but Lolo Jones can pull this off because she processes a genuine sense of humour, it shows the human side of an athlete.
Then I found out she is a 29-year-old virgin.
‘It’s the hardest thing I have done in my life; it’s harder than training for the Olympic.’
Following this revelation, she made some quick firing jokes about staring in the 40-Year-Old Virgin sequel and the awkward moments when guys found out she is serious about her celibacy. Her interview led to this late night talk show appearance.
Sure, she was hilarious, stealing the spotlight from two hall of fame comedians. However, what I took away from this clip though is that she made it look easy. I am sure there were years of hard work involved in her becoming an Olympian but by making light of things, sometimes in inappropriate manner, she accomplished one thing no Australian athletes seem able to do. She shows that just because you are representing your country doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your off-field identity.
In Australia, swimmers get media backlashes for posting photos of their private lives on social media. They even ban Twitter usage and hand out severe punishments to some athletes. I am not arguing whether Olympians should hold themselves to a higher standard, this is another issue. What I am trying to say is that I think we have forgotten that athletes are fundamentally human beings too. By shedding a light on her private life to the public, Jones was able to humanise athletes, allowing common folks like you and me to perceive them not as a different species genetically gifted to achieve what ordinary humans aren’t physically capable to do, but normal people who work hard to make their dreams come true.
However, this wasn’t the end of her 15 minutes of fame, by making a joke about her and Tim Tebow, a fellow Christian adopting celibacy, comedian Louie C.K. accidentally stirred up controversy in another controversial aspect of sports.
The media of course would get excited about the possible romance between two of the most celebrated virgins in American sports. However, it is Lolo Jones’ response to the situation that leads to me writing this article.
She tweeted ‘Ask Tebow if he wants a glass of milk. If he says yes, ask him if he prefers chocolate. If he says no, then no more Tebow date suggestions’. By subtly implying the ethnic difference, she became bigger than the sport itself.
Lolo Jones is of French, Native American, African American and Norwegian descent, her particular ethnic background and the manner she carries herself because of it make her one of the faces of a whole generation of multiracial and multicultural individuals, another being Jeremy Lin.
We often forget about this, but the Olympics is not just a sporting competition, when used in the right and positive way, it is a powerful tool to promote certain racial and cultural agenda.
Jesse Owens changed the world at the 1936 Berlin Olympics when he won four medals. South Africa was invited back to participate in the 1992 Olympics for its repealing of the Apartheid.
Although it is unfair for Lolo Jones to carry this unnecessarily heavy burden, but she could potentially be the pride of millions of people, not just Americans, in London, when she wins gold.
Sorry Sally Pearson, I might be Australian but I am cheering for Lolo to win.