KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — She scrambled to find her camera before the flower ceremony began. Lolo Jones wasn’t going to miss any of it.
She wasn’t going to let her American teammates down. Not now.
And as Elana Myers, Lauryn Williams, Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans stood on the podium and soaked in the applause after winning Olympic silver and bronze medals in women’s bobsled, Jones knelt nearby recording every moment. She never stopped smiling and even screamed, “U-S-A.”
This moment wasn’t about Jones, and that was just fine.
She didn’t get a medal, again, but this Olympic experienced trumped them all.
At last, she felt satisfied.
“Bobsled has made me stronger,” Jones said a few minutes later, her eyes filled with tears. “The lesson in humbleness is definitely gold for sure.”
Jones, who switched from track to bobsled to escape disappointment and continue her quest to win an Olympic medal after twice failing in the Summer Games, finished 11th on Wednesday night as the brakeman for driver Jazmine Fenlator in USA-3. In this race, Jones was never a factor.
Unlike Beijing in 2008, when Jones led the 100-meter hurdles before hitting the ninth one, there wasn’t any late mistake. Unlike London in 2010, when she finished 0.10 seconds shy of a bronze, there wasn’t any heartbreak. On an icy mountainside track in Russia, Jones finally walked away feeling like a champion.
Jones has grown tight with her teammates, who never doubted her commitment from the time she showed up to train. They dubbed themselves the “wolfpack,” and when Jones and Fenlator realized they were going to miss seeing USA-1 and USA-2 make their final runs down the Sanki Sliding Center track, they cut short TV interviews and ran to the finish area.
Still a relative newcomer to the sport, Jones wasn’t sure what was happening in the frantic final minutes of the fourth heat as Greubel and Evans took bronze and Meyers and Williams were bumped from gold by Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse in Canada-1.
Jones’ nerves were on edge as she watched on the TV monitors, and she was unaware of the final standings when she rushed on the track to embrace her teammates.
“I congratulated Jamie,” she said. “I said, ‘Congratulations on the silver.’ And she said, ‘We got bronze.’ And I was like ‘It’s a medal!!! I don’t care if it’s a chocolate medal.'”