Former New York Giants running back David Wilson retired from the game of football earlier this summer due to a neck injury, but he's already set a new goal for himself.
The 23-year-old Virginia Tech product hopes to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the triple jump, per USA Today's Chris Strauss.
"I'll be going back to school to get my degree and training for the Olympics," Wilson said. "That’s something I really want to aspire to do now. I was the national champion twice in high school junior and senior year and was an All-American in college [at Virginia Tech]."
A 2012 first-round pick (No. 32 overall), Wilson was forced to retire from football after just two seasons with the Giants. He decided to hang up his cleats on advice from his doctors, who believed his lingering neck injury from October 2013 posed a serious threat to his health.
He finished his career with 115 carries for 504 yards and five touchdowns, adding six receptions for eight yards receiving in 21 games played.
It's clear Wilson is still an incredibly ambitious person who left the game of football well before his competitive drive petered out.
The New York Daily News' sports-focused Twitter account noted his legs looked strong Monday:
David Wilson just did a patented back flip for kids at Citi Field. Triple jump shouldn't be too difficult to master.— NYDN Sports I-Team (@NYDNSportsITeam) August 18, 2014
He managed to stay optimistic on the subject of leaving football, noting that life has more to offer than action on the gridiron, via Strauss:
When I was involved in football, that’s all I was thinking about was football. That’s not bad in my situation, because the person I am, I know I can make track. I’m strong enough to know that there’s more to life than that. Some people might have taken it more heavy if they took the same approach I had as just focusing on one thing.
While his experiences preparing and dedicating himself to football will be valuable in this transition, it will certainly be different. Becoming an Olympic athlete is a difficult feat that requires years of dedication. The United States consistently produces excellent track athletes, and the triple jump is no exception.
Americans Christian Taylor and Will Claye took home the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the men's triple jump at the 2012 Olympics in London. Wilson has a strong pedigree, but he will have plenty of catching up to do.
Wilson's body absorbed some damage in two NFL seasons (not to mention high school and college football), so it will be interesting to see if the wear and tear of football lowers his triple-jump ceiling or if the lack of contact will allow him to push further than most other athletes in this particular event.
Either way, an Olympic appearance for Wilson would be an incredibly satisfying second act for this Virginia-born athlete looking to start a new chapter in his life at such a young age.
At the very least, Wilson's attitude and ambition are encouraging, and there's no doubt he'll have his fair share of supporters in his newest endeavor.