Former NFL player Luke Williamson wants to represent Canada at the track cycling Olympics

“Hit three. You’re out!” That’s a refrain Luke Williamson heard a lot as a young baseball player growing up in Canada.

But now, years later, Willson is hoping his third strike in elite sport will pay off.

Willson who became a National Football League (NFL) After choosing American football over baseball, he has his sights set on qualifying for the tight end Olympic Games Paris 2024 – in track cycling.

The 33-year-old ended his NFL career two years ago due to health reasons and took up cycling after moving with his parents.

It’s become much more than a hobby as Williamson proves as adept on two wheels as he is at ball sports.

“It was quite an abrupt retirement and I still felt young and I want another chance to go pro, the Olympics or whatever,” he told CBC.

Luke Williamson on representing Canada

After not being able to represent his country during his American football days, Willson said he was driven by memories of wearing the maple leaf on his uniform, Willson said.

Willson played as first baseman for Canada at the 2008 World Junior Baseball Championship (now known as the World U-18 Championship) on home soil and counted future Major League Baseball stars among his teammates.

“Being in Edmonton, wearing ‘Canada’ across your chest and playing against the best under-18s on planet earth was a special experience,” he said of his memories of the tournament.

And that is what drives him to fulfill his dreams of Paris 2024 and the Olympics, even if there is still work to be done given his relative newcomer status in the sport.

“I think it would be something really cool to be able to say, ‘Okay, we’re at the Olympics, I’ve got Canada on my chest, and I’m going to ride this bike through the velodrome.’ I think that would be something really cool,” he told CBC.

From American football to cycling

Willson played in the NFL for eight years and made it into the NFL super bowl twice and wins a championship ring in his 2013/14 rookie season with the Seattle Seahawks.

After retirement, he began cycling with his parents, who were frequent cyclists in their Ontario community.

“I see all kinds of nature, avoid things on the street, drive around, feel air, get a little lighter, don’t lift weights,” he recalled switching from the soccer field to the bike.

However, its 109 kg (240 lb) weight and mass are not particularly suited to a prototype track or road cyclist.

Willson started out riding on the road but decided to switch to the velodrome, although he admits he still has a long way to go.

The Canadian is still focused on honing his beginner racing skills, like finding the right aerodynamic body position, which isn’t easy at his height.

However, he has expert help in the form of the Olympic champion Kelsey Mitchell.

Mitchell, who won the women’s sprint Tokyo 2020She also switched to cycling late from her original sport of football (soccer).

“She had to learn all these bike skills that I’m trying to learn and then be the best in the world […] I kind of enjoyed picking her brains,” Williamson said.

However, Mitchell switched at age 24 and did so in 2017 at age three to prepare for the Olympics (which eventually got an extra year due to the pandemic).

Willson has far less time and, by his own admission, is currently not fast enough to make the Canada team for Paris 2024.

NFL Olympians: Prehistory

If Willson makes it to the Olympics, be it 2024 or later, he would become the 44th man to play in the NFL and be an Olympian.

Of the 43 who came before him, only three have won Super Bowl rings during their careers – and two of those have also secured Olympic medals.

The 100m champion (and men’s 4x100m champion) of Tokyo 1964 Bob Hayes played American football with the Dallas Cowboys and won Super Bowl VI.

Three-time Super Bowl winner Michael Carterwho played for the San Francisco 49ers, won a silver in the shot put in Los Angeles in 1984.

Most recently, three-time Super Bowl ring winner Nate Ebner played for Team USA’s rugby sevens team in Rio 2016 when the sport returned to the Olympic program.


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