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NFL star DK Metcalf eyes U.S. Olympic Trials with 100m race in California

All eyes will be on Metcalf, one of the fastest players in football, at Sunday's USATF Golden Games and Distance Open

NFL wide receiver DK Metcalf will race the 100m at Sunday’s USATF Golden Games and Distance Open at Mt. SAC in Walnut, Calif. Metcalf, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, is currently one of the fastest players in the NFL, and although he has not released any info or statements on the race, many believe he has his eyes on a qualifying time for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Metcalf reportedly competed as a hurdler in high school, but, now 23, he hasn’t raced on the track in years. 

To earn a spot on the 100m start line at the U.S. Trials, Metcalf will have to run the qualifying standard of 10.05 seconds. For context, only 104 men in U.S. history have run that fast (or faster) over 100m. That may sound like a lot, but consider the fact that the World Athletics all-time American 100m rankings features thousands of runners, all of whom have run at least 10.55 seconds (which was the minimum time required to make this list). Of the thousands of men listed and even more who didn’t even break 10.55, only about 100 have hit the Olympic standard of 10.05. 

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To be fair, Metcalf is certainly fast. In a game last October versus the Arizona Cardinals, he chased down a runaway opponent, making a tackle after sprinting just under 115 yards (about 105m) and preventing what in most cases would have been an unstoppable touchdown.

On this play, Metcalf reached a max speed of 36.4 kilometres per hour. If he could run 36.4 kilometres per hour for a full 100m, he would be well on his way to a career in sprinting, as this would work out to a 9.88 finish. To hit Olympic standard, he will have to average 35.8 kilometres per hour over the course of the full 100m. The thing is, Metcalf didn’t average that speed in his full-field chase-down last fall, he merely reached that speed. It doesn’t make his accomplishment any less impressive (few people can run that quickly), but it does suggest that he won’t hit standard on Sunday. 

In most cases, according to an article from ESPN, sprinters hit their max speed in the 100m about 30 metres into the race, and they maintain that pace until about the 55-metre mark. From there, it’s all about slowing down as little as possible in the final charge for the line. In Metcalf’s chase, he reportedly hit his max speed just past the 50-yard line, and since he started at about the end zone, that means he ran around 45 metres before reaching 36 kilometres per hour.

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If it takes him that long to hit that pace in a race, the rest of the field will be well ahead of him by the halfway mark of the sprint. It’s also important to note that Metcalf started his sprint while on his feet and already moving, but on Sunday he and his competitors will be at rest on blocks at the start of the race. Metcalf has likely been practicing his race starts in preparation for this event, but he will be racing athletes much more comfortable with this technique. 

We’re sorry to upset any NFL fans who really think Metcalf has what it takes to run 10.05 seconds (and we’re also sorry to Metcalf if he isn’t aiming to run Olympic standard and is instead just looking to have some fun on the track). Maybe he has been training hard for months and will manage to run well. After all, he’s a phenomenal athlete and one of the best sprinters in football. Numbers don’t lie, though, and based on the stats we can find, it shouldn’t be a surprise if he doesn’t run an earth-shattering time on Sunday.  

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