Believe it or not, there are 100-meter hurdlers at the London Olympics not named Lolo Jones. One is Kellie Wells, who not only beat Jones in the trials but also won the indoor and outdoor US titles and held the fastest indoor time in the world last year. Having qualified for the semifinals today and set her sights on gold tomorrow, she talked with us about speed, dating, overcoming obstacles… and dealing with all those Lolo questions.
MADE MAN: OK, sell us on your sport. Why should we make damn sure to tune into the women’s 100-meter hurdles final tomorrow?
KELLIE WELLS: It’s basically the fastest event in track and field. And it’ll be eight lanes of women who all have the potential of winning a gold medal. And I think we have the prettiest girls in track and field, too, ha ha.
MM: For someone trying to get faster, what’s your best piece of advice?
KW: Find a good coach, who will push you hard and take you outside your comfort zone. Because it’s really easy to stay in your comfort zone.
My coach says, “Aren’t you tired of being a lane filler? Aren’t you tired of being the girl in lane 7 or 8 that they don’t really need in the race? Don’t you want to be the girl in lane 3 or 4 that they have to have in the race, and you’re winning?” And it totally changed my outlook.
MM: You were sexually abused by your mother’s boyfriend when you were a teenager, and your mother died in a car accident when you were 16. Do you see a relationship between jumping over hurdles on the track and jumping over hurdles in life?
KW: Oh, for sure. You have to keep pushing and know that whatever life throws at you, you have to keep going. And it’s the same for the hurdles. I have to keep going. There’s 100 meters, 10 hurdles. You can’t just stop at hurdle 4 or 5 because you’re hurting. Your destination is the finish line.
MM: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to overcome, and how did you do it?
KW: The death of my mother. And having to grow up essentially on my own and learn how to do things that an adult would do at a very early age. And I dealt with it through family, God and my high school coach. I’m lucky enough that I’ve had good people around to guide me.
MM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about track?
KW: Last year at the start of training my coach, Dennis Mitchell, looks at me and says, “Are you healthy?” And I was like, “Yeah, I’m great.” And he’s like, “Well, aren’t you tired of being a lane filler?” It took me by surprise. I’m like, “Whoa, what?” He’s like, “Aren’t you tired of being the girl in lane 7 or 8 that they don’t really need in the race? Don’t you want to be the girl in lane 3 or 4 that they have to have in the race, and you’re winning?” And it totally changed my outlook. It was harsh and it hurt my feelings. But it woke me up. I was like, “Oh. OK. He’s right.”
MM: That’s awesome. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about life?
KW: When I started to share my story, I was a little afraid to talk about it. And I spoke to a couple of people and they just told me, “Live free.” And that I would never be whole and never feel sufficient if I didn’t get it off my chest, share it and help other people by helping myself. And that was the best advice I could’ve been given.
MM: Lighter subject, is it hard for an Olympic hurdler to date?
KW: It is hard to date. Because I’m gone a lot and I spend time around the same people all the time, and I try not to date within my circle. I’m single now, but I’d love to have a boyfriend or… you know, I’m getting older, so a husband would be nice.
MM: What’s the best way for a guy to approach an Olympian?
KW: Just normal. Of course, nobody likes a disrespectful guy or a guy who’s going to come up with a cheesy line or something like that. And don’t come up and comment on my body. I get that a lot and it’s so annoying. Start with a simple, “Hello, my name is such and such, I saw you from across the way,” and then we can go from there.
MM: Are people constantly asking you about Lolo Jones?
KW: Always. They’re always asking about Lolo. Lolo this, Lolo that. And I answer them.
MM: Slightly annoying though?
KW: I mean, of course, because I don’t do an interview to constantly talk about somebody else. This is my time, and if you’d like to speak to her, I can point you in her direction.
MM: Haha. Right.
KW: We all work really hard and do our jobs really well. But it is what it is. I know the media loves her, and I think it’s great because if they’re watching her, they’re generally watching me.
MM: True. Anything else you’d like to tell the readers of Made Man?
KW: Tell them I’m single and available and I’m open. I love all men, all races, whatever. If you’re a nice guy, if you don’t have drama, go for it!
You can follow Kellie Wells—or ask her out—on Twitter @kelliewellz.
UPDATE: Wells proved to be better than Jones Tuesday night, edging her out in the 100-meter hurdles final to claim a bronze medal for the USA.