SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - U.S. track and field star Lolo Jones was moved to tears on Monday as she spoke of the support her bobsleigh team mates had given her after being “thrown under the bus” over her selection for the Sochi winter Olympics.
Critics said the former world indoor 60 meters hurdles champion had been selected more for her looks and popularity than anything else.
Jones, the most high-profile crossover athlete to try her hand at winter sports since former NFL running back Herschel Walker climbed into a sled, said her bobsleigh team mates had been there for her from the start.
“I was thrown under the bus so many times, I was even thrown under the bus by my team mates,” said an emotional Jones in a news conference.
“But the bobsleigh team said: ‘You are one of us.’”
“From the first week they accepted me, they embraced me, they lifted me up and comforted me.”
The 31-year-old is in her second season as a push athlete, or brakewoman, and was picked as the United States goes in search for a first gold medal in two-woman bobsleigh since it was introduced at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.
“I want to return to the track with my head held high. They (bobsleigh team mates) really gave me a fresh start and they had my back.”
Jones had Olympic 100m hurdles gold at her mercy at the 2008 Beijing Games when she powered to the front in the final 30 meters, only to clip the penultimate hurdle and lose all momentum, staggering over the line in seventh.
Now Jones, who won the 2008 and 2010 world indoor titles, is eyeing success on the ice.
With her poster-girl looks and seemingly never shy of an opinion, Jones has courted controversy more than once with her social media posts.
She upset team mates by mocking her low wages for her work with the U.S. bobsledding team.
“I got tired of the rumors. Even one of the girls who is an alternate with the team said that everything had been taken out of context,” said the American.
“I was voted onto the team. I’d be happy if having Twitter followers got me to Rio for the 2016 Olympics but that is not the way it works.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford