Tearful Lolo Jones: Media 'ripped me to shreds' before race

Nursing a broken heart from a disappointing fourth-place finish in Tuesday’s 100-meter hurdles, an emotional Lolo Jones fired back at her critics on Wednesday.

Jones opened up about a Saturday New York Times piece that compared her to Anna Kournikova, the former tennis pro known more for her good looks than her accomplishments on the court. 

“I think it was crazy just because it was two days before I competed, and then the fact that it was from a U.S. media,’’ Jones told Savannah Guthrie before fighting back tears. “They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds. I just thought that that was crazy because I worked six days a week, every day, for four years for a 12-second race and the fact that they just tore me apart, which is heartbreaking.

“They didn’t even do their research, calling me the Anna Kournikova of track. I have the American record. I am the American record holder indoors, I have two world indoor titles. Just because I don’t boast about these things, I don’t think I should be ripped apart by media. I laid it out there, fought hard for my country and it’s just a shame that I have to deal with so much backlash when I’m already so brokenhearted as it is.”

On Tuesday night, Jones tweeted that she had a “broken heart’' after missing an Olympic medal finish by one-tenth of a second. Her disappointment followed her performance in the 2008 Olympics, when she was leading the race and clipped the ninth of 10 hurdles to finish seventh. She took no solace that the Tuesday night race was the fastest one in Olympic history, with Australia’s Sally Pearson running an Olympic-record 12.35 seconds to edge American Dawn Harper by two-hundredths of a second to win.

“Definitely, I was crushed afterwards,’’ Jones said. “I know I had the best race of my season. Not the best race of my life, but I had the best race of my year, so I just try to look at that. It doesn’t take away from the pain that I was close to once again having a medal and not getting it.”

Jones tried to find the silver lining in reaching the Olympic finals after several setbacks in the past year.

“I think it’s disappointing in one extreme as in I didn’t get the medal, but in another extreme, a year ago I was having spinal cord surgery,’’ she said. “I mean if I look at that, spinal cord surgery, two hamstring injuries and you fought through all of that, so I take time to focus on that and not the negativity I’ve received.”

Jones has drawn criticism for her openness with the media about everything from her personal life to struggles with injuries. However, she hopes that her story will inspire others to overcome adversity.

“Putting your heart out there, obviously it opens you up to a lot of negativity, but at the same time if I could just reach somebody out there,’’ she said. “Maybe there’s a little girl who thinks she can be an Olympic athlete and she sees all the things I struggled through to get here. Yeah, I didn’t walk away with a medal or run away with a medal, but I think there’s lessons to be learned when you win and lessons to be learned when you lose.’’