NEW YORK — Former New York Giants running back David Wilson‘s one and only shot to qualify for the USA Track and Field Championships in the triple jump comes at the Adidas Grand Prix on Saturday (NBC, 1-3 p.m. ET).
His goal at his first track meet in four years is to jump more than half a foot farther than his personal best from 2011 and earn a spot in the U.S. Championships field in two weeks in Eugene, Ore. Next year, he wants to make the three-man Olympic team and win a medal in Rio de Janeiro.
Wilson, who was forced to retire from football at age 23 last year due to spinal stenosis, said he’s getting his feet wet in Saturday’s meet in the same city where he played two NFL seasons.
“I always put football first, even in college when I was running,” Wilson, who added he’s down to 189 pounds after playing in the NFL at 210, said Thursday. “Only time that track was first was meet days, when there was a track meet. Same thing in high school.”
The meet at Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island is his only chance to reach the U.S. Championships qualifying standard of 16.30m.
Wilson’s personal best from Virginia Tech was 16.20m.
At least 15 athletes (plus Diamond League winner Christian Taylor, who has a bye into the World Championships and doesn’t have to triple jumpm at Nationals) have jumped 16.30m in the qualifying window, combining USATF and IAAF lists.
If fewer than 18 athletes reach the U.S. Championships qualifying standard, the next best jumpers will be added until the field hits 18. So Wilson could make Nationals if he jumps slightly shorter than 16.30m.
Wilson said he hopes to jump 16.40m Saturday, but he also promised his father he would jump 55 feet (about 16.76m) for Father’s Day.
“I will consider it successful and a win if I left the track Saturday and was qualified for USAs,” said Wilson, who trains with Olympic silver medalist Will Claye.
Wilson hoped to compete at a meet in Chula Vista, Calif., last month but said he suffered a right hamstring strain on a training jump. Wilson said he feels 100 percent now and said his longest jump in training, while doing an eight-step run-up versus 12 for competition, was about 15.5 meters.
The top three finishers at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials are in line to make the Olympic team. The third-ranked U.S. triple jumper the last four years leaped 16.98m (2015), 17.10m (2014), 17.22m (2013) and 17.07m (2012).
Wilson said he missed football “like you being in love with a girl and she breaking up with you.”
“I haven’t competed in anything since football,” Wilson said. “I was playing people in pool, cards, Uno, Connect Four to fill the void.”