Lolo Jones, Anthony Davis - Lifestyle

Lolo Jones inspired by Gail Devers, ‘absolutely’ not done with bobsled

1 Comment

When Lolo Jones failed to win an Olympic 100m hurdles medal in 2008 and 2012, the greatest woman never to make an Olympic podium in the event called her each time.

“It’s not like she’s my best friend and hitting me up on a daily basis,” Jones said, “but she’s there when it counts.”

The voice on the other end was that of Gail Devers, who made five straight U.S. Olympic teams from 1988 through 2004 and captured three gold medals — all for running 100 meters without hurdles.

Like Jones, Devers stumbled by hitting a late hurdle with her right lead foot while ahead in an Olympic final, and then four years later finished fourth in the same race.

Jones knocked over the ninth of 10th hurdles in Beijing in 2008. Devers the 10th in Barcelona in 1992.

After the 2012 Olympics, Devers noted to Jones that she was 37 years old when she won her last medal, presumably referring to her World Indoor title in the 60m (again, no hurdles) in 2004.

Jones will turn 34 on the day of the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony. If Jones qualifies for the 2016 Olympics — a big if considering the U.S. hurdles depth — she’s in line to become the oldest U.S. Olympian in the event since Devers in 2004.

In fact, Devers is the only American to race the Olympic 100m hurdles at an age older than Jones will be in 2016, according to sports-reference.com. The event debuted at the Games in 1972.

“It can be done,” Jones said while at a Red Bull event with New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis in Midtown Manhattan last week. “I know the odds get a little more stacked against you.”

Jones proved last year she’s not to be overlooked. She dropped more than 20 bobsled pounds after the Sochi Olympics and ended the season as the fourth-fastest U.S. hurdler.

She said she would have returned to bobsledding for the 2014-15 season if not for tearing her labrum in her right shoulder in the U.S. Championships semifinals in June.

She didn’t know the injury was that severe at the time, not until her shoulder still hurt during “Dancing with the Stars” training in September, she got it checked out, diagnosed and underwent November surgery.

Jones isn’t racing indoors this winter, but she is focused on track for at least the next 18 months. She’s also “absolutely” not done with bobsled.

“It helped refresh me,” Jones said. “I miss it.”

Matthew Centrowitz’s chase for gold | Sanya Richards-Ross out for revenge

Jessie Diggins, inspired by Body Issue, shares eating disorder battle

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jessie Diggins hopes to open a conversation about body image after appearing in ESPN the Magazine‘s “Body Issue.” The Olympic gold medalist detailed her own experience with an eating disorder as a teenager in what she called “the most important blog I’ll ever write.”

“When I was 18-19 years old, I had everything in the world going for me, but I struggled with confidence and didn’t love myself,” Diggins, now 26, wrote on her website. “I suffered from an eating disorder, and eventually sought help at a treatment center, checking in for a summer program that saved my life. So when I was approached about the ESPN issue, I thought “is this REALLY something I want to do? Will it bring back old memories? Will I be ok with everyone seeing my body exactly as it is?”

Diggins is remembered for winning the first U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing title with Kikkan Randall in PyeongChang (Here comes Diggins!). In the cross-country world, she’s also reputed for her bubbly presence, spreading glitter across her face and sharing it with fellow skiers before races.

She wants to be associated with much more.

“I want to be known not for going through an eating disorder, but for helping other women and men speak up when they need help and not feel judged for needing a friend to talk it through with,” Diggins wrote. “Statistically speaking, at least 6% of you reading this right now are struggling with disordered eating in some way. So to those of you for whom it feels like the end of the world, I can say this: it can, and it does, get better. I know, because I lived it. It will take more courage than most anything else in your life, but you can get better. And it’s worth it.”

Years before becoming a medal-winning athlete, Diggins checked into The Emily Program, a national leader for eating disorder treatment.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but also the most important,” she wrote. “Because it saved my life, in every way that a life can be saved. I learned that I was struggling with this so much because I needed an outlet for stress, and that it was ok to feel a range of emotions – that I could survive feeling pressured, stressed, unhappy, sad, or angry as well as feeling happy-go-lucky.”

Diggins called posing for the Body Issue “a full-circle moment.” ESPN says the Body Issue celebrates every shape and size of athletes in artful fashion.

“[It’s] a chance for me to use a large stage to waltz right up to the microphone and share a message that I think is extremely important, and long overdue,” Diggins wrote. “We need to open up the conversation about body image, self confidence, and disordered eating. It should not be a shameful thing, or a taboo topic. It’s more prevalent than people think, and perhaps making help easier to find and less difficult to ask for could save some lives.”

MORE: Biathlon legend retires with four Olympic golds

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Darya Domracheva, triple Olympic gold medalist in Sochi, retires

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Darya Domracheva, a triple 2014 Olympic gold medalist and Belarus’ most decorated Olympian, has retired from biathlon at age 31.

Domracheva is leaving the sport because she could not continue in biathlon while raising daughter Xenia with husband Ole Einar Bjørndalen, the 13-time Olympic medalist biathlete for Norway.

“All the time after the season, I was trying to find a compromise which would allow me to raise a child and combine with a professional career at the same time,” Domracheva said, according to the International Biathlon Union (IBU). “Unfortunately I did not find an optimal solution which would allow me to combine those two important life parts. This decision is well weighted and very tough, but I finish my sports career.”

Domracheva was one of the biggest stars of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games as the only athlete to claim three individual gold medals, four years after being put on a Belarus postage stamp for earning an individual bronze. Domracheva could have competed for Russia, having been born in Minsk but raised in the remote western Siberia oil boom town of Nyagan, the birthplace of Maria Sharapova.

She became Belarus’ first female Olympic champion, saying she was “the hope of” Belarus, then was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, “Hero of Belarus.”

After winning her only World Cup overall title in 2015, Domracheva missed the 2015-16 campaign with glandular fever, then in April 2016 announced she and Bjørndalen were in a relationship and having a child.

Domracheva returned to take a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships, then entered PyeongChang ranked fifth in the world. Domracheva struggled early in PyeongChang with finishes of ninth, 37th and 27th before earning mass start silver and relay gold.

Her six career Olympic medals are two more than anybody else from Belarus, and her four golds are double anybody else’s total from her country.

Belarus has only competed independently since the 1994 Lillehammer Games, having previously been part of the Soviet Union. Its top athletes who competed under other flags included gymnasts Olga Korbut (six medals, four golds for the Soviets) and Vitaly Scherbo (six golds in 1992 for the Unified Team; four bronzes in 1996 for Belarus).

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

MORE: Biathlon president steps down after doping raid

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!