Ex-Gi­ants star Wil­son makes pro de­but in triple jump

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY RACHEL CO­HEN

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.”

AP

For­mer New York Gi­ant David Wil­son com­petes in the triple jump at the Adi­das Grand Prix in New York on Satur­day, June 13.

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