Lolo Jones faces criticism over tweet leading up to USA Nationals

Lolo Jones, Erik Sowinski and Lisa Uhl join USATF's Katie Branham Tuesday in Des Moines.

Lolo Jones, Erik Sowinski and Lisa Uhl join USATF’s Katie Branham Tuesday in Des Moines.

DES MOINES, Iowa — It wouldn’t be a national track and field meet without some Lolo Jones drama.

But the American-record holding hurdler is tired of the criticism her social media outlets garner.

The 30-year-old Des Moines native and American record holder for the indoor 60-meter hurdles brought a firestorm of attention to herself again on Monday, just days before the USA Track & Field National Championships begin at Drake Stadium in her hometown.

Jones, who lost a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after clipping the ninth hurdle, has been training with the U.S. Bobsled team. On Monday, she received a check for her services.

The amount of the check was $741.84 for seven months of training.

She used her Twitter account to upload a Vine video in which she made a fake phone call, saying she would be late with this month’s rent.

To Jones, it was a joke meant to bring light on the disparity of professional sports.

Not everyone saw it the same way, with gold-medal bobsledder Steven Holcomb jumping to the front of the pack and telling USA Today,”It wasn’t taken very well. People were really kind of insulted. You just made $741, more than most athletes in the sport. So what are you complaining about?”

Some of Jones’ teammates, though, have had a different response.

“None of the girl teammates that I work with took offense to it,” Jones said at Tuesday’s kickoff press conference. “They’ve already vocalized their opinion on social media.”

Olympic bobsled medalist and teammate Elana Meyers tweeted that Jones’ video, “provides us with a teachable moment. Great struggle for the (U.S. Bobsled Federation) is to fund all teams and athletes.”

Jones, and especially her Twitter and Facebook accounts, always bring their share of positive and negative attention.

“If I knew a secret on how to make a tweet or a Facebook post that pleased everybody, I’d be a millionaire‚Ķ It’s so hard though,” Jones said. “Everybody has different senses of humor, I think that’s a subject that athletes struggle with all the time.

“They want to open their lives up to you, but at the same time they get scrutinized. Anything can be misconstrued. You walk a fine border of showing people who you are and just doing ‘PG’ tweets where you show nothing at all.”

Will there ever be a time when she logs out and deactivates her Twitter and Facebook accounts?

“I would never say never,” Jones said. “I’ve seen many athletes quit their Twitter account, wash their hands and walk away, and I wonder if that’s a day where they’re totally stress relieved. Sometimes I wonder that.”

Jones wouldn’t necessarily be a longshot to make the national team — a top 3 finish — for this summer’s World Championships in Moscow. She goes into the meet ranked fourth, but has changed her approach from eight steps to the first hurdle to just seven steps, a trend that has become the norm in the men’s race.

Last year, she pulled off a major upset, making the U.S. team for the London Olympics after coming into the meet ranked outside the top 10 in the nation.

In front of a home crowd, there’s no telling what Jones can do, although this early week distraction won’t make it any easier.

Quad-Cities ties to USA Nationals:Check out tomorrow’s edition of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus for a preview of this weekend’s US Track & Field National Championships, including what local athletes are vying for spots on the World Championship team.

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