Lolo Jones ... has told of her devout Christianity and how she pumps up the jam on crazy old Christian rock before hitting the track.

Lolo Jones ... has told of her devout Christianity and how she pumps up the jam on crazy old Christian rock before hitting the track. Photo: Getty Images

Sally Pearson is not the biggest thing in women's hurdles, and a 100m gold medal won't change that. Sally Pearson wins, Lolo Jones sells.

The American was the second fastest qualifier in the heats behind Pearson today, after just barely making the team. She won a couple of world indoor titles but her main peak came when she clipped the second to last hurdle in Beijing while leading the Olympic final and stumbled into seventh place. She was at that time very fast and a very good thing to win gold having recorded the quickest time before the Olympics. But she didn't win, she stumbled and lost.

She lets her sport do the talking, but it tells a less engaging narrative than Jones life 

That created the first part of the alluring story that built the profile of Lolo Jones - the tragedy of the track queen who fell at her (second to) last hurdle. But it was the endearingly dignified and utterly reasonable manner in which she handled the defeat that began the momentum in a story she has helped push ever since.

Track queen ... America's LoLo Jones gets ready for the start of the women's 100m hurdles heats.

Track queen ... America's LoLo Jones gets ready for the start of the women's 100m hurdles heats. Photo: AFP

Jones finished third behind reigning Olympic champion Dawn Harper in the trials this year yet she leaves her teammate in the commercial shade. She is very attractive and has thus been called the Anna Kournikova of athletics, for her profile until now has outstripped her achievements compared to her teammates.

Her profile has been built not on victories but on story and looks. She has seven large sponsors, Harper for instance has one. She has done stories on HBO, ESPN and NBC's Nightly News, along with a spread in Rolling Stone magazine. She posed for the cover of a magazine wearing what was presumably a bathing suit but looked like she had been tangled in Christmas ribbon. A small bit of Christmas ribbon. She has done a nude photo spread for ESPN magazine with strategically placed bits covering her bits.

It is a familiar pretty female sports star ''sex sells'' story except she has given it a teasingly contradictory twist by declaring ''no sex here''. She announced on Twitter that she was a virgin and was intending to remain chaste until a ring was on her finger. She has done interviews subsequently speaking openly about her virginity and describing it as harder work than her degree and Olympic training.

Sally Pearson wins her 100m hurdles heat in 12.57 seconds at the London Olympics.

Gold medal favourite ... Sally Pearson. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Quite why we know this about an athlete is perplexing, but Jones has been an open book on her life, happily allowing anyone to thumb through the pages. She has told of her devout Christianity and how she pumps up the jam on crazy old Christian rock before hitting the track. She has talked of her impoverished upbringing and how she became adept at shoplifting frozen dinners as a child.

Why we know this much of an athlete is part of the Lolo Jones story that is intertwined with the reality of modern media - we shouldn't care but do, we shouldn't be interested but we are.

Harper as Olympic champion is the more credentialed athlete and it has often been commented in the US she pales by comparison to Jones in profile. She lets her sport do the talking, but it tells a less engaging narrative than Jones life. Even though Harper won the gold and has been the better athlete over the last four years, the allure of Jones is greater.

''I don't care what anyone else is getting,'' she said before the Games. ''You can talk about all that, but you've still got to mention my name.''