USA Sevens star Carlin Isles appears set to lose his title as the fastest player on the planet as news broke that an Olympic Bronze medal sprinter is set to try his hand at the sport.
CNN report this week that Jamaican Warren Weir, who picked up a bronze medal in the 200 metres at the 2012 Olympics, is signing up for ‘The Crocs’ – his country’s national Seven team.
Weir will make his debut will be at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Baranquilla, Colombia, where he will get his first competitive taste of a sport he has little knowledge of, let alone experience.
Weir was injured at the Commonwealth games, and was invited to try out for the team, where he ‘learned the sport a little’.
The holder of the informal title of the ‘Fastest Rugby Player on the Planet’, Carlin Isles will have his work cut for him, at least in terms of sheer speed. Isles could also have laid claim – temporarily at least – to the title of the fastest in the NFL, having bagged a 4.22 second 40-yard dash, timed during a stint at the Detroit Lions, although it has never been entered into the official NFL record books.
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More recently he was timed at 37kmph at the World Series Sevens.
The American Sevens speedster officially clocked a 10.13 seconds 100 metres in his track and fields days, but debutant Weir shaved one-tenth of a second off that remarkable time, having been clocked at 10.03 for the 100 metres, and 19.79 seconds for the 200 metres, in which he specialises.
“I’d love to be that Jamaican that went to two Olympic Games for two different sports,” he told the Jamaica Gleaner this week. “That would be a major achievement for myself… if we got there and got onto the podium, that would be a wonderful story to tell.”
“It has always been my greatest honor to represent Jamaica in any form,” Weir told reporters. “When I was approached about joining the rugby team because my pace would be an asset to the sport, I gladly took up the offer.
“My inclusion at the CAC Games as a rugby player must also not be seen as any kind of decision on my association with track and field as I am still a sprinter. I have just found another way to contribute to this country’s great sporting legacy and I see no reason to limit myself.”
However, as with Isles to a degree, Weir’s lack of size might leave him vulnerable, even on the considerably less collision-based world of Rugby Sevens.
Isles – at 5’8 and 75kg – is small by Sevens standards, but he’s relatively heavily built in comparison to newcomer Weir, who stands 5’10 and just 71kg.
Isles and Weir at not the first sprinters to try their hand at the sport.
Disgraced British sprinter Dwain Chambers – who had a 100 metre PB of 9.97 seconds – made an unsuccessful attempt to play rugby league with Castleford Tigers, while an attempt to play in the NFL Europe ended when the league collapsed.
More recently former CFL Tevaughn Campbell has enjoyed some success in the Canadian Sevens programme. Campbell has clocked a 4.355 40 yard dash time, the fastest in CFL Combine history, and has also clocked a 6.77 60 metre time on the track.
With speed being a near essential ingredient of elite Sevens, inevitably it was going to draw the attention of sprint athletes. With the sport’s accession into the Olympics in 2016, the carrot has just become even bigger. Yet, while viral sensation Isles has now emerged as a legitimate rugby player and thrown off the moniker of the ‘one trick pony’, it was a lengthy process, and sprint athletes may find the adjustment is trickier than advertised.
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