116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES - There's nothing like lugging a 400-pound bobsled around to enhance one's strength.
Just ask Drake Relays fan favorite and now dual-sport star Lolo Jones, who plans to compete in Saturday afternoon's “London Rematch” 100-meter hurdles event.
“Every lift I could think of went up,” said Jones, a two-time World Champion and Olympian who grew up in Des Moines. “Power clean, up - personal best. Bench, personal best. Deep squat, personal best. Everything. I'm just so strong right now. Like, Hercules strong.”
Jones, who came heartbreakingly close to medaling in the 2012 London Games but settled for fourth, will compete in one of 13 London rematches, all of which feature medalists or finalists from last summer.
Jones will compete alongside sometimes contentious rivals Dawn Harper (silver at London) and Kellie Wells (bronze).
She said the Relays' strong field contains both positive and negative elements - and nothing but positives for fans.
“You'd be a fool not to come out and watch the Drake Relays this year with how many (star) athletes that there are,” Jones said. “The con is mostly for the athletes because this is our first race. To have such a high-intensity race is not something we would normally face until the end of the year. So the lineup you're getting is actually more competitive than a Diamond League race. ... These are a lot of the same girls that are going to be fighting for top-three spots to go to worlds and represent Team USA.”
Jones plans to showcase a new hurdling technique she's acquired, in part, due to strength gains gleaned from bobsled training.
“I'm doing seven steps over the hurdles now,” Jones said. “It takes a lot of strength. Not really any other female hurdler does it, so I'm excited to use that new technique here this weekend.”
Aries Merritt, who won gold in the 110-meter men's hurdles in London, said once he started doing the seven-step move, it was “magic.”
“It's something I did last year that paved the way for me going on to do amazing things such as win the olympic gold medal and break the world record,” said Merritt, who will compete alongside silver-medalist Jason Richardson and bronze medalist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica at 6:30 p.m. Friday. “It's really difficult for an athlete to run the seven-steps approach, because it's kind of like being right handed and trying to write in cursive with your left hand. It's that difficult and she was able to do just like I did last year and pick it up pretty quickly. So I'm pretty excited to see what she can do.”
So, of course, is Jones - who continues training toward a spot on the U.S. Olympic bobsled team.
“I really feel good now, I feel strong,” said Jones, who scratched last year because of weather and health concerns coming off an injury. “I should be strong coming off bobsled season. And the weather? Thats just a huge break in itself. Normally when I come here it's, like, 40, or it's raining, so it's always, like, ‘Should we or should we not?' So with the weather and having the clearance, it's a sigh of relief for most of the athletes. People are, ‘Have you heard about the weather?' It's the first thing we're talking about, so we're all pumped to run.”