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Lolo Jones qualifies for the Olympics

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Jones at Saturday's 100-meter hurdles Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. (AP)

Amid all the discussion Lolo Jones' sexual lifestyle choices inspired in the past six weeks, there still remained that one pesky, massive hurdle: she actually had to qualify for the Olympics.

And until Saturday, things weren't looking great. Jones ironically became a symbol for what she stood for (a positive, rare thing; attractive athletes don't openly choose abstinence in this century), not how she performed on the track. The PR machine and build-up can happen frequently with Olympic athletes, but Jones' rise to fame and prominence in the media leading up to the Olympics was unlike that of Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte because she's a niche athlete who hasn't proven herself like other national Olympic icons.

In fact, if you asked a casual Olympic fan -- if they happened to know who Jones is -- there's a decent chance that couldn't tell you her Olympic event.

It's hurdles. And the good news for her, the U.S. and for the marketing and media machine that drives every Olympiad: Jones will indeed make the trip across the Atlantic in four weeks to represent Red, White and Blue.

On Saturday, Jones caught up to her hype.

Jones and her hurdling teammates, Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells took the top spots in the U.S. 100-meter hurdle trials Saturday in Eugene, Ore.

Harper's 12.73 was good for first; Wells had a second-place 12.77 and Jones 12.86.

And make no mistake: Harper is viewed as the United States' best chance at a gold in this event across the pond. Don't make a mistake about this, either: Jones' inclusion is massive. Outside of NBA players, Phelps and Lochte, the United States is anemic with recognizable names this go-round.

Even if Jones doesn't medal, her inclusion brings more eyes and interest to women's track and field, which has seen blasts of intrigue in the past with athletes such as Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Marion Jones and the late Florence Griffith-Joyner. Jones isn't on their level, but she is an intriguing case study in how we look at female Olympic athletes and asses what really brings us to watch. Sometimes, it's not always the inevitable medals that come along the way.

And one more thing: Jones' finish in Eugene is absolutely remarkable. Recently she'd shown herself to be beatable by not just Harper and Wells, but a bundle of other hurdlers who had passed her over the obstacles at recent trial runs. Yet here, when it counts the most, she nabs the final spot? That's clutch -- and speeds up the Jones narrative heading into London.

 
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