Jahvid Best
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Record number of NFL players could compete at Rio Olympics

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In Olympic history, one athlete with prior NFL regular-season experience is believed to have competed at the Games — Herschel Walker in bobsled at the Albertville 1992 Winter Olympics.

That number will very likely increase this summer.

At least five athletes who have played in the NFL are in the mix for Olympic spots between two sports — track and field and rugby.

If all five make it to the Olympics, they will break the record for NFL players at one Olympics, believed by Olympic historians to be the four at the Rome 1960 Games.

All four of those 1960 athletes, and all other NFL Olympians other than Walker, competed at the Games before they became NFL players.

Which makes this year’s crop all the more special:

Buffalo Bills wide receiver/long jumper Marquise Goodwin is the likeliest to qualify for Rio. He finished 10th at the London 2012 Games before playing in the NFL, took nearly three years off from long jumping and returned last year.

On Saturday, Goodwin leaped 8.45 meters, the farthest in the world this year. Goodwin will make his second Olympic team if he finishes in the top three at the U.S. Olympic Trials on July 3 in Eugene, Ore.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts return specialist Jeff Demps could also make his second Olympic track and field team. Demps, a 4x100m relay member in London, is sprinting for the first time in three years.

Demps ranks tied for seventh among U.S. men in the 100m this year. It’s likely the top six at the U.S. Olympic Trials, also on July 3, will be named to the Olympic 4x100m relay pool.

Then there’s former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best, who is reportedly trying to make the Saint Lucia Olympic track and field team in the 100m. Best’s status is complicated by a citizenship process.

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

A key will be whether Ebner is named to the 12-man U.S. team for this week’s World Series final leg in London. The Olympic team, which will be named some time after London, will also be 12 men.

Finally on Sunday, San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne announced his abrupt retirement from the NFL to pursue a place on Fiji’s Olympic rugby team.

That news was stunning, given Fiji is about to clinch its second straight World Series title and doesn’t appear to be in need of outside help given its World Series success.

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Heimana Reynolds wins skateboard world title, nears an Olympic goal from age 10

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In February 2009, a 10-year-old Heimana Reynolds was profiled by his local NBC TV station on Oahu.

“My goal is to become a professional skateboarder and compete in the X Games and the Olympics,” he said, according to the report.

Skateboarding would not be added to the Olympics for another seven years. But here Reynolds is, age 21, having just won the world title in park, one of two skateboarding events that debut at the Games in Tokyo.

Reynolds, who wasn’t named to the four-man U.S. national team in March, consolidated his lead in the Olympic qualification rankings by prevailing over a pair of Brazilians in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

A shirtless Reynolds scored 88 points in the final, beating Luis Francisco (85.50) and Pedro Quintas (85).

No more than three Americans can make the Olympic team in the event, which will make it difficult if three-time Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion Shaun White decides to continue his skateboarding pursuit. White was the sixth-best American, bowing out in the semifinals in 13th place on Saturday in just his second contest since returning to competitive skating last year.

Back to Reynolds. He grew up on the North Shore and attended the Punahou School, where Barack Obama is the most famous alum. His first name is Tahitian, reportedly referring to the power of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Reynolds, the son of a surfer, proved a natural on land. After pre-teen media profiles, he blossomed into a world silver medalist last year. He won an Olympic qualifier in China in July to take the top spot in the Olympic rankings despite a best career X Games finish of sixth.

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Primoz Roglic, ex-ski jumper, wins Vuelta a Espana

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In a year of new talent in cycling, a former world junior champion ski jumper won the last Grand Tour.

Primoz Roglic, a 2007 World junior team ski jumping champion, won the Vuelta a Espana, becoming the first Slovenian to capture a Grand Tour. He prevailed by 2 minutes, 16 seconds over Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde after Sunday’s final stage, a largely ceremonial ride into Madrid.

“Not much words to say about it,” Roglic said in a speech atop the podium. “See you next races.”

Roglic, 29, became the fifth straight first-time Grand Tour champion dating to Geraint Thomas‘ 2018 Tour de France title.

Roglic benefited from Thomas and other stars like Chris Froome skipping the Vuelta, but he also had the credentials, having finished fourth in the 2018 Tour and third in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

Valverde deserves acclaim, too, having, at age 39, made his ninth Grand Tour podium and seventh at the Vuelta. Valverde, the reigning world road race champion, has gone 16 years between his first and most recent Vuelta podium. He also had a record-breaking 19th Grand Tour top 10, according to Gracenote.

Then there’s third-place finisher Tadej Pogacar, a 20-year-old Slovenian who became the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.

Roglic, who suffered this scary crash before leaving ski jumping, joined Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz and Colombian Egan Bernal as this year’s Grand Tour winners. All ride for different teams.

Roglic is with Jumbo-Visma, which also includes this year’s Tour de France third-place finisher Steven Kruijswijk and will include, starting in 2020, 2018 Tour de France runner-up Tom Dumoulin.

Kruijswijk abandoned the Vuelta with a knee injury in the fourth stage. Dumoulin did not start the Vuelta.

The road cycling season continues with the world championships in Yorkshire, Great Britain, later this month.

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