View Photo Gallery: Lolo Jones is one of several U.S. athletes to keep an eye on this summer in London.

As grueling as Olympic qualifying can be for an athlete, American hurdler Lolo Jones says that pales in comparison to another challenge she faces daily.

Jones is a 29-year-old virgin who is saving herself for marriage. And in an interview with Mary Carillo for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” she discussed just how difficult that path has been.

“I just don’t believe in it.” Jones said. “It’s just a gift I want to give my husband. But please understand this journey has been hard. There’s virgins out there and I want to let them know that it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics. Harder than graduating from college has been to stay a virgin before marriage. I’ve been tempted, I’ve had plenty of opportunities.”

A devout Christian, Jones has previously discussed the central role religion plays in her life from reading the Bible before a race to listening to Christian music. That faith has helped her persevere through a trying childhood in Des Moines, Iowa. Jones’ family was so poor that she had to shoplift frozen dinners.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jones came in as a favorite to win gold in the 100 meter hurdles, but as she was pulling away from the pack, she clipped the penultimate hurdle and stumbled. She finished seventh. The years since have been mixed with triumphs and frustrating injuries. This summer Jones will try to put the past behind her and live up to her lofty expectations.

Then she can get back to finding the right man. When asked on Twitter what she’s looking for, Jones listed four basic attributes: “single, Christian, non smoker, no kids with any baby mamas, have a job.” But even if she’s feeling pressure as she closes in on her 30th birthday, she’s still able to laugh about it a little.

“I’m one year out from 30,” she said. “So if they’re making a sequel to ‘The 30-Year-Old Virgin,’ I am their candidate. I would love to. I’m a little bit awkward like Steve Carell. I could definitely play that role.”


Ariel Hsing looks to end American table tennis medal drought

Oscar Pistorius will race in NYC looking to qualify for South Africa

Dara Torres has speed for the ages | How she’s is still swimming at 45

Top Americans to watch at the 2012 Olympics