Swibel, though, has fielded requests from morning news programs, late-night talk shows, 24-hour news networks, and churches and other faith-based groups.
The general public flocked to her, too. Before the “Real Sports” segment, Jones had 52,000 followers on Twitter. She now has more than 125,000. She used to respond to every person who sent her a message, but that’s become impossible in recent weeks.
The lasting impact of this intensifying interest hinges largely on one thing: that Jones actually makes the Olympic team.
She missed the cut in 2004 but was a favorite in Beijing in ’08. In the finals, she was leading the pack and just 19 meters from the finish line when she hit the ninth hurdle, ending her medal hopes.
Her fellow competitors say they don’t mind if the camera gravitates toward Jones. Attention cast on her is still attention that’s cast on their sport.
“If I come from an athlete standpoint and say, ‘Yeah, she’s getting more attention than the reigning Olympic champion, she’s getting more attention than the U.S. national champion from last year . . . I would say, ‘Dang, what about the love for everybody else?’ ” said Joanna Hayes, the 2004 gold medalist and one of Jones’s competitors Saturday. “But then I’d say, ‘Well, she has this story that she’s able to capitalize off of.’ At the end of the day, Lolo may or may or not make the team, but I have to make the team. So I can’t worry about it.”
Jones’s handlers hope her story has staying power and is relevant beyond the Summer Games. First, though, Jones will have to actually punch her ticket to London, and the stopwatch in Eugene doesn’t care about Twitter followers, television appearances or sponsorship dollars.
Notes: Galen Rupp is returning to the Olympics after setting a new trials record in the men’s 10,000 meters Friday evening, finishing a rain-soaked race in 27 minutes 25.33 seconds. Also qualifying for London were second-place finisher Matt Tegenkamp (27:33.94) and Dathan Ritzenhein (27:36.09). . . .
In the women’s 10,000 meters, Amy Hastings (31:58.36), Natosha Rogers (31:59.23) and Shalane Flanagan (31:59.69) were the top finishers. Rogers lacks the required “A” standard time, though, and Flanagan has said she’ll compete in the marathon, for which she’s already qualified — not the 10,000 meters — in London. Fourth-place finisher Lisa Uhl (32:03.46) and seventh-place finisher Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (32:17.06) both had previously achieved the “A” standard and will join Hastings in London. . . .
After five events of the decathlon, Ashton Eaton had 4,728 points and a comfortable 322-point lead over second-place Trey Hardee and a 476-point advantage over Bryan Clay, the reigning Olympic champion who finished the day in third. Eaton set two world records for decathletes in Friday’s events, running the 100 meters in 10.21 seconds and posting a long jump of 27 feet.