When we last talked about the Lolo Jones backlash, it was easy to get the impression that the New York Times had gone rogue, drumming up an antagonism where none truly existed, and repackaging quotes from Jones's teammates and an "expert" to serve as a mouthpiece for their own gripes.
Well, if that was the intention, it looks like the Times didn't actually have to look very hard to find people willing to throw Jones under the bus. In Michelle Beadle's NBC interview with Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells (the former of whom was quoted in the Times piece saying, "I've had family issues as well, but I'm not willing to say all of them just so it can be in the papers. I don't want that for myself or my family") the medal winners dispensed with the standard palaver about unity or the sort of inclusive pride the Olympics is theoretically about. Instead they made it pretty clear who they were racing against: Lolo Jones.
There's a little media criticism in there at first: Harper calls Jones "their favorite," and says her feelings were hurt when her story wasn't told. The people who tell stories tend to be the media. But after Michelle Beadle says "we're talking about Lolo Jones if you can't figure this out," Wells follows up some pretty standard athlete speak ("...the three girls that earned their spot and they got their medals and they worked hard and did what they needed to do, prevailed") with "And that's all that really needs to be said." Harper follows up with, "Boom! Just like that."
They're obviously pretty pleased with themselves, and hey—they just won medals at the Olympics by beating (among others) someone they apparently don't care for. Athletes talking shit is fun, and for all we know, Jones is a terror behind the scenes. In many disciplines, an Olympic delegation strains the traditional notion of "team"; hurdling requires no teamwork whatsoever and unlike sprinters, hurdlers at the Olympics don't even run relays. Still, it bears repeating, with all this discussion of "earning a spot" and "working hard", that Lolo Jones (described as having "only a slim chance of winning an Olympic medal in the 100-meter hurdles and almost no possibility of winning gold" on Sunday) qualified for the 100m finals after two heats, and came in fourth out of, you know, every female hurdler in the world. She was .23 seconds out of the gold, .21 seconds behind Harper for the silver, and an agonizing .1 seconds behind Wells. For the second straight Olympics, Jones has reason to look back on these games and regret a near miss, but this time she'll also have to confront the fact that her presence apparently wore very thin for her teammates.