Things haven’t always been easy for track and field star Lolo Jones. After missing out on a medal at two consecutive Olympic games, Jones is turning over a new leaf. She’s the newest member of the U.S. national bobsled team and has hopes that this new venture will earn her a spot on the winner’s podium at the 2014 Winter Games. Here, Jones talks about how she’s reinventing herself and empowering others to do the same.
ESSENCE.com: What has having this second chance and learning a new sport been like for you?
Jones: At first I thought bobsled was just going to be something fun and refreshing for me, so I’m shocked that I really do love it a lot. I’m so passionate about track, so I never imagined that I would ever say I’m really passionate about bobsled, too. I’m shocked at how much it has helped me get stronger not only physically, but mentally as well. It’s done wonders.
Another thing I love about bobsledding is that they recruit a lot of athletes who didn’t reach the pinnacle in their sport. We have so many track and field athletes who aren’t pro athletes but once they come to bobsledding, they are amazing bobsled athletes. It’s a ‘second wind’ sport. There are no bobsled teams in high school so bobsled has to recruit heavily from other sports. Your past failures in bobsled mean nothing.
ESSENCE.com: There were rumors that you were bobsledding because you were “desperate” for a medal.
Jones: They completely took my words out of context. When I heard those rumors, I was pretty frustrated because it was like here we go again with things being taken out of context. If you’re pursing an Olympic sport, who’s not trying to get a medal? I just stated the obvious and I said I was desperate but it was said in much more joking way.
ESSENCE.com: Do you miss track?
Jones: I still run track. I’m doing both sports at the same time. It’s hard but I think both sports complement each other. Obviously, I’m used to running but now I’m running with a 375 pound bobsled so it’s getting me stronger for track and it’s inspiring a new love within me.
ESSENCE.com: How does your faith in God inspire your athletic achievements?
Jones: With my faith, I know I can’t rely on myself. I’m going to fail. I’m going to make mistakes and so I have to rely on Jesus to help me through them. I cannot tell you how many times the Bible has given me so much strength and peace to get through so many different circumstances and storms. I’m human and there are things I will fail at but God can turn it around for His greater purpose.
ESSENCE.com: What pushes you to keep going after experiencing those failures? You’ve been through a lot in your career.
Jones: Yes, and it’s been very hard. The London Olympics were even tougher for me than Beijing. I took a lot of time after the games to think about things. I’m proud of my effort. I had recently had spinal surgery and a lot of people didn’t even think I would make the team, so I’m proud of how I fought. I always use my failures as motivation.
ESSENCE.com: You’re the face of the new Degree campaign, “DO: More.” What does this movement mean to you?
Lolo Jones: I love this message because it’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m doing more. Coming from the London Olympics, I was so close to medaling yet again and I fell short. When people fail at something they have two options—quit or do more. That’s why I think this campaign is so amazing and that’s why I’m pursuing bobsled right now. I’m not giving up on my track dream, but by me pursuing bobsled and doing more, I’m getting stronger.
Watch an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip of Jones taking on her newest athletic venture as part of the Degree DO:More campaign.