American Olympian Lolo Jones finished in fourth place in the women's 100-meter hurdle finals, losing the bronze by only 0.10 seconds to Kellie Wells, another member of the U.S. team. In the 2008 Beijing Games, she was in the lead for the event before hitting a hurdle and placing seventh.
And then it got worse.
Many Olympic athletes have faced serious scrutiny by the media, suddenly appearing overnight as national celebrities; despite their athletic victories, they have been criticized. Swimming sensation Ryan Lochte, who has won five gold medals and a total of 11 medals, is too dumb. Mckayla Maroney was unimpressed with her silver medal for women's gymnastics despite her prowess and scowled, seeming ungrateful and snotty. Sixteen-year old Gabby Douglas and all-around women's gymnastics champion, didn't make sure her hair was neat enough while competing. Now, Lolo Jones didn't win a medal because she's a virgin.
While Jones won three NCAA titles and 11 All-American honors while a student at Louisiana State University, two gold World Indoor Championships in 2008 and 2010, and silver in the 2010 Continental Cup, all for hurdles, she still has not taken home an Olympic medal.
Many publications may have criticized her seemingly empty stardom, but naturally that was not enough. Twitter users went after Jones for being a virgin and outspoken Christian who is abstaining from sex before marriage, even at the fruitful age of 30. Since when was her sex life relevant to her athletic career or deemed necessary information for the public? Is she not entitled to her privacy despite publicly stating her religious beliefs and views on sex?
The New York Times' scathing criticism of Jones said that she "has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games," based not on achievement but her "exotic beauty" and a "cynical marketing campaign." Jere Longman continued, "Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses."
But as the Los Angeles Times noted, "It was a scene that should have been celebratory yet reeked of pettiness. It's as if these American athletes forget what it's like to be an American athlete. The successful ones go for it, not only on the field but in the marketplace. If they don't back it up with victories, they usually disappear anyway, so why begrudge them the effort?"
Forbes published a promising, if not weak, defense of Jones that lauded her for making the most of her assets and marketing herself as an entertainer as well as professional athlete for the public eye. In the end, all that matters is that Jones is able to move on. She intends to compete in the 2016 Olympics and hopes to win a medal at the age of 34.
The pettiness has to stop.