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Tyreek Hill eyes Olympics; qualifying for U.S. trials is difficult enough

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Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill said he’s serious about trying to qualify for the U.S. Olympic track and field team after Super Bowl LIV, but it would be very difficult for him to qualify for the Olympic trials, let alone get to Tokyo.

“Hopefully after this season, if I’m healthy and my mind is still in the right place, I really want to try to qualify for some Olympic teams,” Hill said at Super Bowl media day in Miami on Wednesday. “Even go to Penn Relays [in April], give that a try. Get a few guys off the [football] team put a relay together and show these track guys, hey, football guys, hey, we used to do this back in high school, man. We still got it. I just want to have fun with it.”

Hill was asked in a follow-up if he was serious about the Olympics and looked into it.

“Yeah, I have,” he said. “I have. I have.”

Hill was a world-class sprinter in high school. He ran the 200m in 20.14 seconds at age 18, ranking him sixth in the U.S. in 2012. If he ran that time between now and June 7, Hill would qualify for June’s U.S. Olympic Trials.

But asking him to get near his personal best, seven years removed from his sprint days and after the longest NFL season of his career, is a leap.

Hill easily qualified for Olympic trials in 2012 (the automatic qualifying time was 20.55), and 20.14 would have made the Olympic team at trials. But Hill did not race trials. He ran junior nationals and the world junior championships instead.

Hill also noted Wednesday that he broke 10 seconds in the 100m in high school. While that is true, it came with a 5.0 meter/second tailwind, which is 2.5 times the maximum tailwind for record purposes. His true 100m personal best is 10.19 seconds.

But none of those old races count if Hill wants to race at June’s Olympic trials. He must post a qualifying time between now and June 7. In the 100m, the automatic qualifying time is 10.05 seconds. In the 200m, it’s 20.24.

USA Track and Field could invite more men to either field if it deems not enough automatically qualified. Any extra invitees would be taken in order of the fastest time in the qualifying window. Hill would not get special treatment as an NFL star.

NBC Sports analyst Ato Boldon, a four-time Olympic sprint medalist who has coached NFL Draft prospects for the combine’s 40-yard dash, called Hill’s chances of qualifing for the trials “a long shot.”

“I think Tyreek is the fastest man in the NFL, but you’re not going from an entire NFL season to being an Olympic qualifier in the 100m,” Boldon tweeted. “NFL season wreaks havoc on a body. NFL season that extends through the playoffs to the Super Bowl makes it even worse.”

The only Olympians to compete in the NFL before and after their Olympics were running back Herschel Walker in bobsled (Albertville 1992) and New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner in rugby (Rio 2016).

However, former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best qualified to race the 100m for Saint Lucia in Rio. Best, though, had been doing sprint training for more than one year before the Olympics (and had not played in the NFL in four years due to concussions).

If he’s serious, Hill has four months to qualify for trials in the U.S., which has a tougher 100m standard than what Best ran to qualify for Saint Lucia (10.16 seconds). Saint Lucia had no other Olympic-caliber sprinters.

Hill would also have to make major lifestyle changes.

“But the thing is, I weigh like 195 [pounds] right now. Back in high school, when I ran a 9.9, I was like 175,” he said. “If I do it, it would be me changing my whole diet, changing everything that I’ve been doing to get to this point where I am now.”

MORE: Coronavirus wreaks havoc with sport schedules, including Olympic qualifiers

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Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

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Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

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MORE: Ledecky, Manuel welcome Olympic decision after training in backyard pool

Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.

The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.

Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.

  • Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
  • Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.

When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.

USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:

Karate (1)
Sakura Kokumai

Modern Pentathlon (2)
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Swimming (3)
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport Climbing (4)
Kyra Condie
Brooke Raboutou
Nathaniel Coleman
Colin Duffy

Surfing (4)
Caroline Marks
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
John John Florence

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MORE: Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement