Usain Bolt supports himself to make his mark on the Central Coast Mariners of the A-League

By Shaun Giles


August 21, 2018 18:57:47

Usain Bolt wore training pants with long sleeves and gloves, and seemed cooler than usual during his first training run with the Central Coast Mariners.

"The first training day is always the hardest," Bolt admitted after his debut training with the Mariners in Gosford.

The eight times Olympic gold medalist and eleven-time world champion is the personification of speed and strength.

But he will now be judged on technique, dribbling, suitability, endurance and coordination.

"For me, I'm just trying to overcome the first hurdle and that is to get a contact and be fit," Bolt said.

"I have to work on the basic skills."

His first modified run lasted less than an hour – a few runs, a few kicking exercises and a lot of time watching while his potential teammates made a more intensive result.

Sometimes the fastest man in the world looked slow and appeared out of place in the company of professional footballers.

"The look was on him," said Mariners coach Mike Mulvey.

"He would not be a man if he had no nerves."

But it is worth remembering that this was the first day in which the intention was to help Bolt in his highly publicized lawsuit.

Is he the real deal? Does he have the skills? Is he really trying to test for the ruling wooden spoons of the A-League on the day of his 32nd birthday?

"It's something that I want," Bolt said.

"For me this is a challenge and so I try to stand up to be my best."

The Jamaican will settle indefinitely on the Central Coast of New South Wales as he embarks on his latest sporting profession.

And the world, or at least the global media, is watching.

The standard layout for a Mariners training session is often counted on one hand.

Not this time: 100 journalists, camera operators and photographers were deployed to cover the historic first session of Bolt.

"We received offers from teams in Spain, France [but] it was not the top division, "Bolt explained.

Bolt wants to play top football and he has chosen the A-League.

It is a completely new playing field. Bolt now has to become a reliable team player from the mostly individual athletic world.

"At the moment, his movement is not of the standard of a professional player, but of course to work with," noted Ray Gatt, the chief football writer of the Australian.

"I'm sure we'll see improvement in him."

Bolt was determined to silence the doubters

While the work has to be done while walking, Bolt talks about the talk.

When he landed in Australia last weekend for his much-needed lawsuit, Bolt said about all rights: this is not a gimmick; he is here for the long term; he wants to be a footballer from the A-League.

Today was no different.

"I am here, I do not care what people say," he said.

"It's just a new moment for me to prove that people are wrong."

While fitness is its current priority, the four-time Laureus World Sportsman of the Year is convinced that he has what it takes to become a professional footballer.

"My ability to understand very quickly and learn the game is something I am very good at," Bolt said.

And time is on his side. The Mariners have said that they would not take a hasty decision about the future of Bolt.

"If it takes 12 months … I'm glad he's here," Mulvey said.

"This man is a winner."

The club hopes that his winning athletics pedigree – and his "great mental capacities" – will leave a lasting impression on the younger players, regardless of whether he has a play contract.

"He is one of the boys, he does not receive special treatment," Mulvey said.

"That is not the way a team works."

Del Piero, Yorke, Fowler, Heskey, Kewell and Cahill all played a role in the A-League as a marquee, and now Bolt wants to take his name as the next head of the league.

"I think I see the game very well," said Bolt.

But for now even one of the world's greatest athletes is a daily hopeful.

And maybe Bolt knows for the first time in his career what it is like to be on a level playing field, something that rarely experiences his rivalry with athletics.






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