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.”