Isles: Shifting Gears to a Different Sport

Bo Jackson. Michael Jordan. Deion Sanders. Great athletes who made their mark in more than one sport. Generally, when athletes target a new athletic endeavor, they have some sort of prior relationship with that sport before becoming involved. Carlin Isles is Unique in that department and my Athlete CRUSH because he grew up a track and field and football star – it was only until training as a sprinter for the 2012 London Olympics that he found a new calling for rugby.

Despite graduating from a Division II school, Isles’ 6.68-second 60m school record garnered an invitation to compete for a spot on Team USA’s sprint squad leading up to the 2012 London Olympics. While researching techniques to improve his speed, he came across training videos for the fast-paced style of rugby 7’s. Isles quickly became intrigued by the newfound sport. Like the shot of a starting gun, he was off, this time bolting on a different surface. He would contact the CEO of USA Rugby and just four days later he would discover what rugby was all about. (Click here to discover one of New Zealand’s accomplished Rugby stars, Sonny Bill Williams

Before Isles could even think about a career in professional sports, he had to navigate through life’s difficult paths as a foster child. Growing up in Massillon, Ohio, Isles had to look out for and protect himself, but also his twin sister. He had learned to take a hit from occasionally getting into fights before he was adopted, so transitioning to rugby did not come as an overwhelming challenge. Standing at 5’8” and 165 pounds, the speedster’s ability to thrive at his new sport was uninhibited by his size. Isles’s 4.22-second 40-yard dash was not enough to earn a roster spot for the Detroit Lions in a 2013 tryout, but his time was widely valued as a rugby player because most professional athletes cannot sprint faster than 4.40.

At 26 years old, Isles has established himself as one of the most dangerous rugby players on the pitch after only a few years of training. He is a crucial cog of USA Sevens’ success, winning last year’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and medaling this year at third place. One of the fastest men on the track will look to showcase his development to becoming the fastest man on the pitch at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Isles’s perseverance is cause for admiration because of his willingness to combat challenges and overcome the slimmest of odds. His passion for track and field has never left, as he recently decided to compete in spikes for both his new and old sport. Isles looks to kill two gold medals with one stone at this upcoming Olympics fueled by his desire for track and 7’s.

If you are looking to familiarize yourself with one of the fastest growing sports in the US, be sure to check out the CRC (Collegiate Rugby Championship) June 4-5 at Talen Energy Stadium, Philadelphia. The CRC features the nation’s top 7’s clubs of various universities, channeling their inner Carlin Isles.


Follow Carlin Isles on Instagram @carlinisles and Twitter @Carlin_Isles

Follow the writer Bryan Jung on Instagram @jungb_4_3 and Twitter @jmula15

Posted 31 May 2016