x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Jones driven by upbringing

Lolo Jones spent most of her childhood fleeing unpaid landlords, but, once she found some roots, her athletic talent flowered to the extent that she is now favourite for Olympic 100 metres hurdles gold.

BEIJING // Lolo Jones spent most of her childhood fleeing unpaid landlords, but, once she found some roots, her athletic talent flowered to the extent that she is now favourite for Olympic 100 metres hurdles gold. That would have seemed a pretty unlikely scenario when Jones, her siblings and mother were forced to sleep in the basement of a church having reached rock bottom.

"I had a new school every year for eight years," the 26-year-old American said. "It was hard. She was a single mum [her absent father was in the air force then in jail], working all the jobs she could, but once we were homeless and ended up in the basement of a Salvation Army church. "The rest of the kids were going to camp there and I had to sneak out each morning and pretend I had just arrived.

"When I got to high school I said: 'Mum, I don't want to move any more,' and we finally stayed put. But even then I stayed with four different families." Jones said her childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, helped develop her personality as no sooner had she made new friends when she was forced to move on and start again. Blessed with a ready smile and stunning green eyes from a genealogy she describes as "some African-American, native American, French, bit of Norwegian" she was always going to be noticed but running at school was merely a side interest for Jones.