World champion LoLo Jones will be making news this weekend, and it won't be focused on her dating life. Instead, she'll show off her speed and fighting spirit as she makes her third attempt to qualify for Team USA. Her ultimate goal: Winning gold at the 2012 London Games to make her mom proud of the champion she created.
Jones, 29, will compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials for Track and Field, being held in Eugene, Ore. on June 22-July 1. "By the time London Olympics comes," she says, "I'll be running for 12 years, devoting two to four hours every day for a race that lasts 12 seconds."
Jones currently holds the American record for 60m hurdles. She competed in the 2008 Beijing games and was favored to win the 100m hurdles but during her race, she tripped on the ninth hurdle. "There was a point when I knew I was winning and I knew I was going fast, that's when the unthinkable happened," she says.
"She came so close," says Jones' mom, Lori, as she reflects on her daughter's devastating spill in Beijing. "When she fell I wanted to go down and just kind of hug her, but I couldn't get to her...that [failure] does break a lot of people. But she doesn't give up."
For LoLo Jones, the ability to pick herself up, her passion on the track, and her desire to succeed go far beyond the need to be the best. "I always wanted to use track as a way to get out of poverty," she says.
Jones is one of six children, all raised by their single mom in Iowa. At one point, the family was evicted from their home and 24 hours later, found themselves living in a church basement. "I grew up quite poor but, I mean, as a kid you don't realize you're living in poverty. My mom was trying to do by any means necessary to make sure that we have what we needed. I definitely do not think I'd be going for this dream had I not seen her pick herself up so many times and keep fighting for us. I think that's why I keep fighting."
Jones' first "battle" was focused on the 2004 Athens Games: "In 2004, my goal is to make the Olympic team. I wasn't even in the final. I knew what it was like sitting at home watching the Olympics on TV. I didn't want to experience that again." Four years later, she not only made the U.S. team, she was the one of the fastest runners in the world. "I went from kind of being a no one in everyone's eyes to, boom, now the spotlight's on LoLo to win the Olympics. Things were lining up to where I would be the Olympic champion...you're carrying a lot of people's hopes and dreams back home."
"I was crushed when I couldn't get the medal," says Jones. "I wanted to make my mom proud. Winning the medal, I would have been like 'Hey Mom, this is for you. You created an Olympic champion with all your hard work.'"
Even without the medal, LoLo Jones is still making her mom proud. She's still fighting, even after her medal loss and most recently, back surgery to repair a damaged portion of her spinal cord. (Her surgeon has said the problem with her spinal cord may have even been the cause of her hitting the hurdle in 2008.)
"I've always used my failures as motivation. It was natural because I've seen my mom do it her whole life."
The Procter & Gamble video series, "Raising an Olympian," will run through the London Games and profiles athletes, their dedicated efforts to make it to Olympic games, and the mothers who had tremendous impacts on their lives. Check out Team Mom on Yahoo! Shine all summer for additional "Raising an Olympian" segments.
Also on Shine:
Raising an Olympian: Henry Cejudo
Raising an Olympian: Diana Lopez
Raising an Olympian: Kortney Clemons
Raising an Olympian: Ryan Lochte
Raising an Olympian: Kerri Walsh-Jennings
Raising an Olympian: Shawn Johnson
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