Mon, Aug 20, 9:42am by Staff Writer
Eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt is heading down under to trial with the A-League’s Central Coast Mariners ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The Mariners, who finished last season’s campaign at the bottom of the table are said to be legitimate in their interest in Bolt, who has harboured aspirations of a professional football career for some time now.
Central Coast are $26 to win the A-League this season, with Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC the equal favourites at $5 to win the title.
Bolt, a lifelong Manchester United fan, has made no secret of his desire to play professional football, anywhere in the globe.
As he touched down in Sydney on the weekend, a raft of cameras and a few die-hard fans greeted him, as he adorned the blue and white Mariners scarf.
The Mariners have just three months to turn an Olympic and World Champion sprinter into a footballer worthy of an A-League contract; ahead of the season’s start in late-October.
This is undoubtedly a coup for the Mariners on and off the field. The commercial interest Bolt is projected to generate is going to be an enormous boost to the Gosford-based club.
Team management have already allocated extra resources to aid Bolt’s development, in the form of training and high-performance staff.
A light tower at Central Coast Stadium has also been engraved with a lightning bolt, with a videographer and club Chief Executive Officer Shaun Mielekamp on hand to welcome Bolt to Australia.
The 31-year-old will have his first light training session with the club on Tuesday, which coincides with this 32nd birthday.
Bolt is expected to run out for his first official game in Mariners colour on August 31 against a Central Coast representative side, made up of regional amateurs.
The game is expected to draw a big crowd in Gosford, with talks underway of televising the fixture.
Bolt has expressed his desire to increase his aerobic capacity upon arriving in Australia, alluding to the fact that training to be a sprinter is far different to the rigours of a 90-minute football match.
The first Usain Bolt jerseys are expected to be on sale at the club’s August 31 trial.
A-League Championship Odds – Sportsbet
Melbourne City $5
Melbourne Victory $5
Sydney FC $5
Newcastle Jets $8.50
Perth Glory $8.50
Western Sydney Wanderers $8.50
Adelaide United $9.50
Brisbane Roar $12
Wellington Phoenix $23
Central Coast Mariners $26
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