CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- When you're named after an airplane, it's probably your destiny to fly.
Truth be told, Avion Jones' mother wasn't aware that the name she was giving her son translates to "airplane" in both Spanish and French, she was just following family tradition with an "A" first name. It turned out to be pretty serendipitous.
Now a car salesman at Hendrick in Cary, Jones still has realistic Olympic dreams. He's fresh off a second-place finish at the USA Track and Field Indoor Nationals, leaping 7 feet 3 inches. That's still four inches off his career best of 7-7 but was more than enough to re-ignite his fire to compete and motivate him to continue the hard work of being an unsponsored athlete.
Jones gets no money from Nike or Adidas or any of the big companies. He does have an agent, but they were on the outs in the weeks leading up to nationals. Jones wasn't even clearing 7 feet for a long while, so he was staring straight into the reality of ending his athletic career. He wasn't even going to compete at Nationals.
A few weeks before the meet though, he had a training epiphany. Jones realized he had forgotten the basics of jumping, neglecting them along the way as he had enjoyed success. It wasn't until he bottomed out that he went back to those elementary necessities. Jones noticed immediate, dramatic improvement.
With that self-realization, he "bet on himself" and paid the money for a flight and entry fee into the Indoor meet. His performance there proved he still had plenty of jumping ahead of him.
Just 25, Jones is embracing his day job as a car salesman.
"I'm a chameleon," he said, in a good way, referencing his ability to interact with all manner of customers. He hopes to leverage his job at Hendrick into a possible sponsorship with the company. That's a goal, as is another shot at the Olympic trials.
In the meantime, he rises early to lift, heads to work, then heads to training. Days packed with work and with big dreams.
Cary car salesman has lofty Olympic dreams