Jahvid Best, former Detroit Lions RB, named to Saint Lucia Olympic team

Jahvid Best
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By Nick Zaccardi and Seth Rubinroit

Former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best has been submitted and approved for Saint Lucia’s Olympic track and field team and is set to become the first person with previous NFL experience to compete in a Summer Games.

“Above all else I’m excited to get out there and make my country and family proud,” Best said in a statement to NBC Olympics.

Best, a former California high school sprinter with a Saint Lucian father who holds dual citizenship, was a 2010 first-round draft pick whose football career was cut short after two seasons due to concussions.

He has been doing sprint training at the Altis center in Arizona, home of many elite Olympic athletes, for at least one year.

Best registered on the Olympic radar on April 2, when he ran a personal-best 10.16 seconds for the 100m with nearly the maximum allowable legal tailwind (1.9 meters/second) at a small meet in California.

That met the Olympic qualifying standard of 10.16 seconds or faster (on the dot), but the IAAF must also recognize the results as official.

The small meet’s director said in May they hadn’t considered sending results to the IAAF to be recognized. In June, after the director learned Best had run an Olympic qualifying time at the meet, those results finally appeared on Best’s IAAF profile.

But Best was still an American runner up until this week, though never in international competition, which was key to him being able to represent Saint Lucia in Rio.

He did not compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials, where he would not have made the Olympic team as the U.S. has several sprinters who are faster.

But Saint Lucia does not have faster sprinters. Best’s Saint Lucia representation issues were solved, clearing the way for him to compete in Rio.

“This is a huge accomplishment for me, but at the same time this is just the beginning,” Best said. “I have only been in this sport for two years professionally, and plan on being around for a long time.”

Saint Lucia, a Caribbean island that debuted at the Olympics in 1996, has never sent more than six athletes to an Olympics and never earned a medal, according to sports-reference.com.

Best, given he hasn’t improved on that 10.16, would be fortunate to make the Olympic 100m semifinals.

About 40 NFL players have competed in the Olympics, but almost all of them have done so before playing their first regular-season game.

One athlete with prior NFL regular-season experience has competed at the Olympics, but it was at the Winter Games — 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker in bobsled at Albertville 1992.

Another NFL player could join Best in Rio. New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner is a candidate for the U.S. Olympic rugby team expected to be named any day now.

Three other athletes with NFL experience failed to make Rio Olympic teams.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin finished seventh in the long jump at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on July 3. Goodwin, who finished 10th at the London Olympics before starting his NFL career, came into the meet with the two best jumps in the world for the year but strained a hamstring in qualifying at Trials. 

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts return specialist Jeff Demps was eliminated in the first round of the 100m at the Olympic Track and Field Trials. Demps was a member of the U.S. 4x100m relay team at London 2012, taking a silver medal that later had to be returned due to teammate Tyson Gay‘s doping.

Former San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne made a quixotic bid for the world’s best rugby sevens team — Fiji — but did not make the final 12-man roster.

MORE: Marquise Goodwin, Buffalo Bills WR, misses U.S. Olympic team

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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