Ex-Giants star Wilson makes pro debut in triple jump
David Wilson knew he looked like a football player lined up alongside the rest of the triple jumpers at the Adidas Grand Prix.
At 89 kilograms, he dwarfed the competition — and he felt that weight on his jumps, too.
The former New York Giants running back came up well short of his personal best Saturday in his first professional track and field meet. Wilson plans to jump again Sunday in his last chance to qualify for the U.S. championships.
Wilson jumped 48 feet, 14.66 meters Saturday; he had posted a wind-aided 53-1 3/4 in college. He last competed in 2011, when he finished sixth at the NCAA meet for Virginia Tech.
Because of a hamstring injury, Wilson hadn’t tried a full 12-step approach in practice. He assumed that going full speed would allow him to jump farther, but instead it just reminded him he needs to lose more weight. Saturday’s experience was a physics lesson: When he made his initial hop, the additional momentum in fact slowed him down because those extra pounds were generating the wrong kind of force.
“All the speed I had built up, stopped,” he said, and he didn’t feel in control of the jump.
So Wilson plans to return to eight steps Sunday, the most he’s done in practice, when he’s jumped 15.5 meters. He had been hoping for at least 53-9 on Saturday.
Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo won with 57-7 1/2.
A state champion triple jumper in high school, Wilson could never devote much time to track and field in college because of his football commitments. But after a serious neck injury forced the former first-round draft pick to retire from the NFL at age 23 in August, he decided to give the triple jump another try.
His goal is to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, hopeful he can make major improvements now that he’s dedicated to track full time.
As an NFL rookie in 2012, Wilson led the league with a franchise-record 1,401 kickoff return meters. But he was hurt only five games into his second season, when an MRI revealed a narrowing of his spinal cord. Wilson underwent surgery and returned for training camp.
But then during a drill, he caught a pass, put his head down and ran into the back of an offensive lineman. That hit caused numbness in his hands and lower extremities.
Doctors advised him to quit football. Triple jumping poses no risk because there’s no contact.
Wilson played at about 95 kilograms, but now he’s competing against rivals in the 60-80-kilo- gram range. He had gotten as low as 85.7 and hopes to reach 80-84 kilograms to improve on Saturday’s debut.
“I wasn’t proud the way I performed,” he said. “But it was a good experience because I got my feet wet in a professional atmosphere, and now next time when I do get right in training, do get down to the weight I want to be, do get my technique perfect — I’ll be knowing what to expect.”
Former New York Giant David Wilson competes in the triple jump at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York on Saturday, June 13.