Carlin Isles‘ rugby career began with a 5 a.m. phone call and about a 1,000-mile drive.
“I basically cried the whole way,” Isles told Dave Kaplan on CSN Chicago’s SportsTalk Live. “If this don’t work out, I’m screwed.”
Isles said he then had about $500 to his name. Now Isles, dubbed the fastest man in rugby, is on track to compete in the first Olympic rugby tournament since 1924 next year in Rio.
The U.S. men will face world power Australia at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra). That match will be the 15-per-side version, rather than seven-per-side version that Isles plays and will be on display at the Olympics.
The U.S. is preparing for the Rugby World Cup (15 per side) in Great Britain, where its first match is Sept. 20.
Isles, a former Detroit Lions wide receiver, helped the U.S. qualify for Rio earlier this year. He also owns a 100m personal best of 10.24 seconds.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Isles was part of the U.S. men’s team that is playing Australia Saturday.