Kellie Wells, Dawn Harper make clear they're not Lolo Jones fans
Lolo Jones' two hurdles teammates took shots at her work ethic and media coverage in an NBC interview Wednesday.
Look: you didn't really think defending Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper and expected podium finisher Kellie Wells were perfectly happy to play second media fiddle to surprise Olympic competitor Lolo Jones, did you?
But just in case you haven't been paying attention to Harper's and Wells' prickly answers when they've been asked about Jones before, they laid things out for good in a charged Wednesday morning interview on the NBC Sports Network.
"I just felt as if I worked really hard to represent my country [in 2008] in the best way possible," Harper said, "and to come away with the gold medal, and to honestly seem as if, because [the media's] favorite didn't win all of sudden it's just like, 'Were going to push your story aside, and still gonna push this one.' That hurt. It did. It hurt my feelings.
"But I feel as if I showed I can deal with the pressure, I came back, and I think you kinda got to respect it a little bit now."
But if Harper's beef seems to be as much with the media's treatment of Jones as Jones herself, that wasn't the case for Wells.
"I think that, on the podium tonight, the three girls that earned their spot and they got their medals and they worked hard and did what they needed to do, prevailed," she said. "And that's all that really needs to be said."
"Boom!" Harper responded. "Just like that."
Via Business Insider, here's video of the interview with NBC's Michelle Beadle:
Harper similarly told Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden after Tuesday's final that "I feel like my life and my story have just been trampled on over the last four years.''
Again: none of this is all that new for Harper, who hasn't gone out of her way to express her disguntlement with Jones's fame but also has rarely shied away from it when asked directly. And if Wells hasn't been as blunt, her resentment in the wake of the Jones supernova isn't exactly a surprise.
The take here is that as bitter and ungracious as Harper and Wells come across here, there's no one here that truly deserves criticism. If we'd won a gold medal and still wound up a complete afterthought in our own country because someone in our same event happened to look good on a magazine cover and be willing to talk about her unorthodox sexuality, we'd be bitter too. If we had been one of the world's best hurdlers throughout 2012 -- the only hurdler to beat Sally Pearson in any race this year -- and were best known as the teammate of a hurdler who entered U.S. Olympic Trials with the ninth-best American time this year, we'd be ungracious, too.
At the same time, there's no way to blame Jones for doing absolutely everything she can to turn the typically fleeting fame of Olympic track success into something more durable. And there's certainly no way to knock her Olympic performance--to go from someone who many U.S. track observers felt wouldn't even get on the plane to London to finishing one spot off the podium is a tremendous accomplishment.
If there's any true villain here, it's we in the media, who have been a little too eager to push Jones's compelling personal storylines, charisma, and camera-friendliness at the expense of Harper's and Wells's success on the track.
Does Jones deserve to have two of her teammates blast her at the same moment she should be able to celebrate her best race since 2008? No. But do we blame Harper and Wells for letting their frustration over their years of undeserved anonymity spill over during their 15 minutes in the spotlight? No, not that either.
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