SPORTING NEWS – Jahvid Best lined up in Lane 8 here at Olympic Stadium, two blocks over from the star of the show, Usain Bolt. He broke well, ahead of Bolt and near the front of the pack in the first 20 meters or so.
But by the time the pack hit the midway point, the elite sprinters had pulled away from Best, who finished in 10.39 and was seventh of nine in his first-round race. He was 54th overall (or 70) and did not qualify for the semifinals.
But Best, representing the island nation of Saint Lucia — his father has dual citizenship — was undaunted by the result. A former first-round pick as a running back from Cal, Best played three years with the Lions and is now the first former NFL player to compete in the Olympics.
“It’s a blessing man,” Best told a small group of reporters. “I only decided to try and run track last year. I had no idea I was going to end up at the Olympics. It’s just been a blessing. What I am using this for is just experience, this is the first time I ran in front of a crowd of more than 500 people at a track event. This is just a blessing for me, and I am looking forward to a bright future. I know I can master this sport like I did football.”
Best is one of the best running backs in Cal history, but played only 22 games in the NFL after suffering multiple concussions. He scored four touchdowns in his first two games as a rookie. His next-to-last game with the Lions, on a Monday night against the Bears in 2011, was the best of his career, when he totaled 163 yards rushing and scored on an 88-yard touchdown.
“Track is very similar to football,” Best said. “This was like a Monday night game or a Super Bowl. The energy out there is crazy, it was fun.”