For most competitive athletes, making it to the Olympics means dedication to a single sport. Carlin Isles is not most athletes. The 26-year-old took up rugby after a competitive sprinting career. His 100-meter sprint time of 10.24 is still getting him to the Olympics, but in an unorthodox way.
The 36th fastest man at the 100-meter dash in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, Isles' time could have sent him to London for other nations. But in the U.S., he was deep in the rearview mirror. Only the top three Americans qualified for the Olympics: Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey (Bailey earned the last spot at 9.93). Not wanting to let dreams of being an Olympian fade away, Isles took to the rugby pitch.
"I never thought it'd be rugby," he says. "It was a way for me to showcase my gifts. I like running fast. I feel alive."
In 2012, he moved to Colorado and joined the Gentlemen of Aspen RFC to pursue a career in rugby. National scouts took notice of his incredible speed.
"I only played club for a month," Isles laughs.
A short 12 weeks after picking up a rugby ball for the first time, Isles made his debut for Team USA against the New Zealand All Blacks. Less than a minute into his first game, the rookie scored against one of the best teams in the world.
"That's when I knew I could fit in and this was made for me."
At the Rio Olympics, where rugby is returning for the first time since 1924, rugby sevens will be the format. Unlike 15-man rugby, sevens requires more athleticism, endurance and strategy in the open field.
"I like sevens more, it suits my game," Isles says. "It's fast-paced, more appealing in that way. The game is only 14 minutes and it's exciting."
From a scout's point of view, Isles seems to be a perfect fit for a sevens team. Standing at only 5-foot-8 and able to run at speeds unmatched by most, if not all opponents, Isles rose through rugby ranks quicker than many lifetime players.
"Rugby has opened up so many doors and opportunities and for me to share my story and to inspire people," Isles says. "That's the main thing I wanted to do."
Isles was unable to travel with the USA Rugby Men's Eagles on trips to Paris and London with a high ankle sprain. When ThePostGame talked to Isles in May, he said he was "operating at 95 percent," while recovering at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. Isles noted he was cleansing his body with an organized diet of two full breakfasts, a hearty lunch, a protein-filled dinner and "a lot of California almonds."
Until his injury Isles insisted he would again go the U.S. Olympic Trials for the 100 meters. On Thursday, Isles made the decision to let the deadline for applying to the trials pass.
"I have rugby camp all this week, including Saturday, so I had to choose," he told NBC Olympics. "I had to be fighting for my [rugby] teammates."
Rugby pool play begins in Rio on August 9. Isles and the USA Eagles are joined by Fiji, Argentina and host Brazil in Pool A.
-- Follow Mac Benson on Twitter @MacMBenson.