Lauryn Williams and Lolo Jones have been selected for the U.S. bobsled team that will compete in next month’s Sochi Olympics.
They are now positioned to join a group of eight other Americans who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Games. Williams is a three-time summer Olympian who helped the U.S. win a gold medal in the 400-meter relay at the London Games. Jones is a two-time veteran of the summer games in the 100-meter hurdles, missing out on gold in Beijing after a late stumble.
Jones, Williams and Aja Evans were the three women chosen out of a six-woman pool for the push athlete spots, that word coming at a team meeting where half the candidates saw their Olympic dreams realized and the other half saw them come to a quiet end.
“I was definitely very nervous entering the room,” Jones said. “I’m usually used to looking up at a screen after I cross the finish line to see the results. You’re just like anxious, armpits are sweating, don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Jones was one hurdle away from winning gold at the Beijing Olympics, then finished fourth at the London Games. Looking for a break from the spotlight but not sports, she turned to bobsled in the fall of 2012, winning a World Cup medal in her first race and quickly announcing herself as a legit Sochi contender.
Then she recruited Williams after the 2012 400-meter relay gold medalist and former world champion sprinter retired from track, talking her into the bobsled game.
And all Williams has done as a rookie is help the U.S. win three medals in her four World Cup races, including a gold on Sunday.
“I joined bobsled just to be a helper and to add positive energy to the team,” Williams said. “If my name wasn’t called, I wasn’t going to be upset. I’ve enjoyed this journey. I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone. I’ve enjoyed the challenge.”
The U.S. qualified three men’s two-man sleds and two four-man sleds for Sochi. Reigning Olympic four-man champion Steven Holcomb will drive USA-1 and Nick Cunningham will be at the control of USA-2 in four-man. Cory Butner will drive the other two-man entry.
Holcomb and his crew of Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Langton and Chris Fogt will be USA-1. Holcomb snapped a 62-year U.S. gold medal drought in the four-man event at the 2010 Vancouver Games, and now will try to give the U.S. its first two-man gold since 1936.
Justin Olsen, Johnny Quinn and Dallas Robinson will push Cunningham’s four-man sled.
About two hours after the team selection was made, Jones posted her reaction on Facebook, summing up the emotions of having another chance to compete for an Olympic medal.
“Had I not hit a hurdle in Beijing I would not have tried to go to London to redeem myself,” she wrote. “Had I not got fourth in London I would not have tried to find another way to accomplish the dream. Bobsled was my fresh start. Bobsled humbled me. Bobsled made me stronger. Bobsled made me hungry. Bobsled made me rely on faith. Bobsled gave me hope. I push a bobsled but bobsled pushed me to never give up on my dreams.”
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