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Getting The Gold In Perceived Failure

What do American athletes Lolo Jones, Jordyn Wieber & Ryan Lochte all have in common?  They are all victims of failing to live up to pre-Olympic hype and thus will be considered failures by many for their performances in London.  

Lolo Jones
Lolo Jones (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

The real question is who is to blame for building them up over time and taking them down seemingly overnight?  It’s probably a combination of the media, public relations and advertising people and to some extent the athletes themselves.

For those who have not really followed the London games let’s start with Lochte, the 28-year old swimmer who did win 2 gold, 2 silver and a bronze medal in the pool last week for a total of 11 medals in three Olympics.

 

However to many he did not quite live up to expectations and once again swam in the shadow of Michael Phelps.  The good news is that Phelps is retired and Lochte says he’ll be back in 4 years.

Jordyn Wieber was to be the face of women’s gymnastics, having won the gold medal in the All-Around at the 2011 World Championships.  She was built up to be the leader of a young American squad, even though she just turned 17 last month.

Jordyn Wieber
Jordyn Wieber (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Wieber was a big reason why the US won the team gold but she did not even qualify for the individual all-around competition and finished 7th in the floor exercise.  Instead of her being on the cover of a cereal box it’s Gabby Douglass.

However the athlete who best personifies how quick the fall from grace can be is Jones, who waited four years to get redemption for the misfortune she suffered at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  Jones was on her way to winning gold in the 100 meter hurdles when she clipped the next to last hurdle, stumbled and finished 7th.

With tears flowing afterwards she vowed to use that as motivation for London and she became one of the big stories of these games.  Her exotic looks also made her highly-sought after by many companies, including McDonald’s.

However this week just two days after her 30th birthday Jones finished 4th and failed to medal which led to some unflattering news stories about how she was built up more because of her looks then her performance.

The best news for Lochte, Wieber and Jones is that should they decide to try again in four years there will be others who will have been built up to fail.  Heck, the three might even do what we like best, fall and then rise again.

 

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