EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — It’s not often you see the hurdler finishing in the back signing autographs before she heads off the track.

In this case, that hurdler was Lolo Jones.

Jones, 41, was once one of the main faces of track and field — with endorsements galore and high expectations to win as she headed into the 2008 Olympics. She tripped on the ninth hurdle in Beijing and finished seventh but left as big of a celebrity as she came.

She’s still a fan favorite.

On Friday, she was entered in the 100-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials. Jones finished last in her heat, which wasn’t a big surprise. But she’s moving on to the semifinals. In fact, everyone who made it over the 10 hurdles advanced after two competitors didn’t start.

Jones’ time of 14.86 wasn’t particularly speedy — her best legal time is 12.43 — but she’s just about six weeks removed from a torn hamstring and hasn’t hurdled much since then.

“Toradol, the official sponsor of 40 year olds,” joked Jones of the pain medication.

Her biggest fear going into the race wasn’t going fast, but being able to finish at all.

“I ran a fearful race because I was terrified,” Jones said. “That’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done in my career — and I know it sounds insane.”

Jones, an Olympian at both the Summer and Winter Games, said politics in her other sport, bobsled, pushed her back into hurdles realm. She was given a huge cheer as she took the track.

“It’s been so long I thought people forgot,” said Jones, whose first Olympic trials was 2004. “It just means a world for me to like have even people remember or shout my name because I was terrified on that start line.”

What was she doing here so far past what many thought was her prime and the end of her career?

Just proving she could still compete.

“You sometimes feel your world is over in your 20s if you don’t make a team. I hope to show (young athletes) you can still be in your 40s and be good enough to qualify for the Olympic trials,” Jones said. “I hope someone after me is going to be good enough to throw down in their 40s.”

Also making the semifinals was 35-year-old Nia Ali, a silver medalist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Guaranteed a spot into the semifinals, Ali took a leisurely stroll over the hurdles in a time of 20.38 seconds.

Jones hopes to be on the start line for the semis on Saturday — hamstring willing, of course.

“We’ll see how I feel,” Jones said. “If I wake up and I’m super sore, I might have to pull out. But if we’re good, I’m going to go for it.”


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