David Wilson

Can David Wilson, ex-NFL RB, make the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team?

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David Wilson‘s career in the NFL is over, but he hopes an elite professional track and field career is just beginning.

Wilson, 23, is done with football after two seasons with the New York Giants due to neck injuries. He told David Briggs on “Pro Football Talk” on NBCSN on Friday that his new goal is to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team in the triple jump.

Wilson, from Virginia Tech, was sixth in the triple jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2011 (personal best 16.2 meters) and could run the 100 meters in 11.01 seconds.

And he thinks he can jump farther.

“Every time I’ve been triple jumping, I’ve been in football weight,” Wilson told Briggs. “I was never really practicing triple jump. That was just God-given talent, the athletic ability I was blessed with. I think if I really focused in and honed in, I could compete with the top-tier athletes.”

How much would Wilson have to improve to be among the world’s best?

The world’s best triple jumper this year leaped 17.76m, but that’s not what to shoot for as far as making it to Rio de Janeiro in two years.

A maximum of three U.S. men can make it to the 2016 Olympics in the triple jump. The U.S. is home to the reigning Olympic gold and silver medalists — Christian Taylor and Will Claye — who have jumped 17.75m and 17.37m this year.

For 2016, the key distance is the Olympic “A” standard that must be met to have a shot to be on the U.S. team, if the process doesn’t change drastically from 2012.

In 2012, the Olympic “A” standard distance was 17.2 meters. Only Taylor and Claye reached the mark among Americans, so the U.S. was unable to send the full roster of three men’s triple jumpers to London.

Only once in the last five years has an American other than Taylor and Claye bettered 17.2m, so hitting the “A” standard should be Wilson’s goal if he’s thinking Rio.

The “A” standard may or may not be 17.2 meters, though. In 2008, it was 17.1 meters. The IAAF announced the standards for the 2012 Olympics in April 2011.

The “A” standard also can be met at a meet other than the Olympic Trials. For London 2012, the window to hit the “A” standard was from May 1, 2011 through the Olympic Trials over a year later.

Lolo Jones ends track season early

Ragan Smith delivers in first U.S. championship title win

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Ragan Smith embraced the role of heavy favorite coming into the U.S. gymnastics championships.

Thrust into the spotlight for the first time in her career, the 17-year-old hardly appeared intimidated by the stage. Smith pulled away from the field to claim her first national title Sunday, posting a score of 115.250, more than three points clear of Jordan Chiles in second place and Riley McCusker in third.

Smith opened up a 1.3-point lead over McCusker in the opening round Friday but admitted afterward she wasn’t particularly impressed by her own performance. She was considerably sharper less than 48 hours later, her 57.850 total in the finals was the best in the 16-woman all-around field by nearly two points.

Smith is one of the few holdovers from the 2016 Olympic cycle, serving as an alternate for the “Final Five” team that won half of the available medals in Rio de Janeiro last fall. Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez are taking breaks or have moved on, leaving Smith as the standard bearer for new national team coordinator Valeri Liukin.

The program appears to be in solid hands. Smith ditched “The Addams Family” themed floor routine she used last year for something a little more mature. It’s not the only part of her gymnastics that has grown up. Smith finished first on floor and beam and tied for third on bars.

Smith will be in the mix for the all-around title at the world championships in Montreal, where she’ll have a chance to extend the U.S.’s dominance. An American woman has won the world or Olympic title each of the last six years. Barring injury, Smith should be right there.

Liukin said he wasn’t alarmed following an uneven performance by the field in preliminaries, calling it a positive step for a group lacking in experience. The gymnastics were markedly improved in the finals.

Chiles slipped by McCusker into second thanks to a fabulous save on beam in which she turned a near disaster into something decidedly artful.

Chiles was in the middle of “wolf turn” (basically spinning on one foot while in a crouch on a 4-inch wide piece of wood) when she nearly fell over. Instead she rose to her feet, kept rotating, and went right into the next part of her routine as if it was planned all along.

Chiles’ steadiness gives Liukin another option as he tries to put together the rest of the four-woman team that will join Smith in Montreal. McCusker, only recently recovered from foot and wrist injuries, tried to keep the heat on Smith but stepped out of bounds following the last tumbling pass on her floor routine. McCusker finished first on bars — her legs practically magnetized together as she went from bar to bar — to win the event with ease.

Ashton Locklear, like Smith an alternate last summer, wound up second on bars with a watered down routine as he makes her way back from her own injury issues and should have time to install upgrades before Montreal.

Whoever heads to Canada in October will go with the usual expectations for what has become the sport’s most dominant program.

MORE: Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

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Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

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Simone Biles has competed in the six previous U.S. National Championships, winning the last four, but in Anaheim this year, she’s watching from the sidelines. Biles won four gold medals (team, all-around, vault and floor) and one bronze (on beam) last summer at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

This week she revealed she has returned to the gym to prepare for a yet to be determined event, in her return to competition.

When asked how she’s been doing in the gym by NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce, Biles responded with her signature smile accompanied by an endearingly bashful eye roll, “the beginning is…OK.”

MORE: Danell Leyva on why he’s retiring

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