Track Olympians Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams have earned spots on the U.S. Olympic bobsled team, and when they take to the icy tracks next month in Sochi, Russia, they’ll become the first American athletes in more than a decade to have competed in both Summer and Winter Games.
On the flight over, they may want to rock Salt-n-Pepa’s 1987 hip-hop classic “Push It,” as they’ve made the squad as “pushers” in two-woman sled combos. Their role: to “push it real good,” as the song says, for 30 meters and then jump in behind the driver—“it” being a 400-pound sled, as Runner’s World reports.
The selection was announced on Sunday in Austria, following the World Cup. While it was something of a subjective process, both Jones—a two-time world champ in the 60-meter hurdles who famously hit a barrier at the 2008 Olympics and fell from first to seventh—and Williams, who won a gold medal at the 2012 London Games as a member of the 4x100-meter relay team and a silver in 2004 in the 100 meters, had fared well all season.
That Jones and Williams made the U.S. bobsled team is especially remarkable given how new they are to the sport. Williams participated in her first-ever race on December 7, 2013, and Jones—who convinced her fellow runner to give the event a try—is only in her second season.
Still, Jones insists that donning of the helmet and bodysuit isn’t a “gimmick.”
“It’s not for publicity,” she said, according to Runner’s World. “It never was. It’s always been about me achieving a dream and being able to tell that story down the road, that I never gave up and I fought hard.”
Williams, who alongside driver Jamie Greubel won first place at Sunday’s World Cup event, also insists her intentions are pure.
“I joined bobsled just to be a helper and add positive energy to the team," she said. "If my name wasn’t called [Sunday], I wasn’t going to be upset. I’ve enjoyed this journey.”
In all, the U.S. is sending three drivers and three pushers to Sochi—pairings yet to be determined—and as Wiliams told Runner’s World, there’s a “very strong” possibility that the internationally recognized team will leave Sochi with more than one medal.
Either way, Jones and Williams add their names to a short list of bi-seasonal U.S. Olympic athletes whose last new addition was Chris Witty, a track cyclist and speed skater who pedaled in Sydney in 2000 and laced up his skates in four Winter Games between 1998 and 2006.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg