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Legal Studies Professor’s Art Featured at Olympics

Michael E. Jones’ Triathlon Poster on Display in London

Christine and Michael Jones with Olympian Michael Phelps
UMass Lowell Legal Studies Prof. Michael E. Jones and his wife, Christine, visited with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps for an event in Baltimore in May.

By Sarah McAdams Corbett

Each member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic triathlon team owns a little bit of UMass Lowell — or, more specifically, a little bit of Michael E. Jones, a legal studies professor here. 

Jones, also an avid painter and triathlete, created the official triathlon poster for this year’s games — and the team’s competitors were among the first to receive a print. 

The poster — made from a painting Jones created for the event — was sold at the U.S. Olympic Trials and national championship race and is now at the site of the British Olympic Committee and the British Triathlon Association.

“It’s a pretty cool honor,” says Jones, whose paintings were also turned into Olympic posters in 2004 and 2008

The American Sports Art Museum in Alabama asked to display all three of Jones’ Olympic triathlon posters in recognition of the London games; they’ll be on display during the games.

Jones won’t be in London for this year’s events, but he did attend the USA Olympic Triathlon Trials and the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame awards event in San Diego in May. 

“I designed the official Hall of Fame award … and each of the key international Olympic triathlon folks was given a poster,” he says.

Jones’ own connection to the Olympics is deep. A teammate of Mark Spitz on the U.S. national swim team in the 1970s, Jones made it to the Olympic Trials in 1972.

“Mark and I swam the same freestyle event; he was more than a tiny bit faster,” Jones laughs. “I never made it to the games. I smelled it, I tasted it — but I never went.”

It didn’t stop him from competing, though. He went on to win national and world open-water swim championships. He also spent years racing as an elite triathlete and aquathlete (run-swim-run). 

Jones’ involvement in elite sports brought him recently to Baltimore, hometown of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. 

“My wife, Christine, and I were with Phelps as part of a fundraiser for the North Baltimore Aquatic Club swimmers, of which 26 or so qualified for the trials and a handful made the Olympic team,” Jones says. 

Phelps signed some personal items that were auctioned off, as was Jones’ London Olympic triathlon poster.

“Besides having a chance to chat with him about his training and upcoming Olympic races, I had him sign a 2008 Corn Flakes box from which I created a pop-art piece in the tradition of the great pop artists of the '60s. I told Phelps about what I was doing and he thought it was pretty cool,” says Jones, who had painted Phelps’ official portrait during the Beijing Olympic Games.