DWAIN CHAMBERS will turn his back on his Olympic dream next week if he is successful in his attempt to secure a £60,000-a-year playing contract with Super League club Castleford Tigers. Click PLAY to hear him.
The 30-year-old makes his rugby league debut with Castleford's reserves in a friendly against York on Sunday when he hopes to prove himself in what is widely regarded as the world's toughest team sport.
Chambers has consistently refused to rule out a legal challenge against the decision of the British Olympic Association not to consider him for selection for the Beijing Games later this year following his two-year ban for drug use in 2003.
However, a sprinter who jointly holds the UK record of 9.87 seconds for 100m with Linford Christie yesterday revealed that he will abandon his track career if Castleford are sufficiently impressed by his efforts on Sunday to offer him a contract.
"It looks as though I would take it," Chambers told the Yorkshire Post. "I'd have to, you know.
"Why would I turn down the opportunity to play rugby and have fun for the next three years, earn a living for my family and live in a nicer place?
"It would be disappointing not to run in the Olympic Games, but who's to say this wouldn't be more satisfying?"
Chambers has been training as an unpaid trialist with Castleford for the last four weeks and has impressed the coaching staff with his professionalism, attitude and desire to learn, while his pace has astonished everyone at the Wheldon Road club.
In a full and frank interview with the Yorkshire Post, Chambers admits that he has struggled to cope with the fitness levels of athletes who are conditioned to play rugby for 80 minutes rather than race for a mere 10 seconds. However, he feels his experience at Wheldon Road will stand him in good stead if he looks to relaunch his athletics career should an offer from Castleford not be forthcoming.
"At the moment my head is in rugby. It's impossible for me to live in two worlds," he said. "At the same time I am preparing myself to compete.
"Should this door close on Sunday, I'll still be fit and ready to run. Playing rugby league has got me fitter than I could ever believe. I had no idea what it would be like, but it's been fantastic.
"I'm not closing the door on the Olympics, but I have to deal with this first."
If Chambers does look the part, Castleford are likely to face stiff competition for his signature with coaches and scouts from both league and union clubs expected to be in the crowd on Sunday.
Welsh union sides Cardiff and Llanelli, who are coached by ex-Leeds Tykes coach Phil Davies, are known to have been watching Chambers's progress while the positive soundings from Wheldon Road have not gone unnoticed by a number of Super League clubs