Jarryd Hayne
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Jarryd Hayne retires from NFL to pursue Rio Olympics

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San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne announced his NFL retirement Sunday to pursue a bid to make Fiji’s Olympic rugby team, 82 days before the Rio Games open Aug. 5.

“I am retiring from the NFL because the Fiji rugby sevens team reached out to me about the opportunity to join the team for the upcoming Olympics, and I simply could not pass that chance up,” Hayne said in a press release. “The Olympics has been something I have admired since I was a little boy, and it is an opportunity I feel very similar to me joining the NFL.”

Hayne, 28, played in eight games in his rookie NFL season after spending the previous nine years playing in Australia’s National Rugby League.

Hayne was born in Australia but has a Fijian father and has represented Fiji internationally in the past.

Fiji is the world’s best men’s rugby sevens program, having won the 2014-15 World Series season title and likely to repeat this season with one leg remaining.

Hayne will join Fiji in London for a camp leading into that final World Series leg this week. The camp includes 14 players from which 12 can be chosen for the World Series roster, according to Fiji coach Ben Ryan on Twitter.

The to-be-named Olympic roster will also be 12 players.

“I have no promises he is going to make the 12, but we will see how he goes,” Ryan said in a press release. “He will then come into Fijian camp for the Olympic period. It is a huge challenge for Jarryd, but if he gets into the squad it is only going to be on form, because he is a blinding rugby player.”

Fiji has never won an Olympic medal.

Hayne is not the only athlete with NFL experience eyeing Rio.

New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner is going for the U.S. rugby team, and it was reported last month the head coach said Ebner had a “50-50” chance of making it.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin hopes to make his second straight Olympic team in the long jump. Goodwin leaped a personal-best 8.45 meters on Saturday, the best jump in the world this year.

Former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best is reportedly trying to make the Saint Lucia Olympic track and field team in the 100m.

MORE: Former NFL wide receiver makes U.S. bobsled team

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

MORE: Seb Coe: Track and field needs more U.S. meets

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U.S. Open mulls no fans, group flights, coronavirus tests as decision looms

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Charter flights to ferry U.S. Open tennis players and limited entourages from Europe, South America and the Middle East to New York. Negative COVID-19 tests before traveling. Centralized housing. Daily temperature checks.

No spectators. Fewer on-court officials. No locker-room access on practice days.

All are among the scenarios being considered for the 2020 U.S. Open — if it is held at all amid the coronavirus pandemic — and described to The Associated Press by a high-ranking official at the Grand Slam tournament.

“All of this is still fluid,” Stacey Allaster, the U.S. Tennis Association’s chief executive for professional tennis, said in a telephone interview Saturday. “We have made no decisions at all.”

With that caveat, Allaster added that if the USTA board does decide to go forward with the Open, she expects it to be held at its usual site and in its usual spot on the calendar. The main draw is scheduled to start Aug. 31.

“We continue to be, I would say, 150% focused on staging a safe environment for conducting a U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on our dates. It’s all I wake up — our team wakes up — thinking about,” Allaster said. “The idea of an alternative venue, an alternative date … we’ve got a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have a lot of momentum.”

An announcement should come from “mid-June to end of June,” Allaster said.

All sanctioned competition has been suspended by the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation since March and is on hold until late July.

The French Open was postponed from May to September; Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since 1945.

There is no established COVID-19 protocol for tennis, a global sport with several governing bodies.

“Everybody would agree to the fundamental principles, I’m sure: protecting the health of participants, following the local laws and minimizing the risk of the transmission of the virus,” said Stuart Miller, who is overseeing the ITF’s return-to-tennis policy. “But then you have to get down into the specific details.”

One such detail: The USTA wants to add locker rooms — including at indoor courts that housed hundreds of temporary hospital beds at the height of New York’s coronavirus outbreak — and improve air filtration in existing spaces. Also being considered: no locker-room access until just before a match. So if anyone goes to Flushing Meadows just to train, Allaster said, “You come, you practice, and return to the hotel.”

The USTA presented its operational plan to a medical advisory group Friday; now that will be discussed with city, state and federal government officials.

MORE: Olympic tennis: Key questions for Tokyo Games in 2021

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