Sprint legend Usain Bolt to join Australian club for latest football trial
Eight-time Olympic champion Bolt will head to Gosford, Australia, later this month to train with the club, who play in the country’s top-tier A-League.
The 31-year-old Jamaican has already trained with Borussia Dortmund in Germany, Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa and Stromsgodset in Norway, as he seeks to break into the world of football after retiring from athletics last year.
The 100m and 200m world record holder said he was "very excited” about his latest challenge.
"It has been my dream to play professional football and I know that it will involve a lot of hard work and training to get to the level required to play and make an impact in the A-League,” Bolt said, the BBC reported.
"I always say that 'anything is possible, don't think limits' and I look forward to the challenge.
"I hope I can make a positive contribution to the club and look forward to meeting the other players, staff and fans in the coming weeks," he added.
Central Coast Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp said the team is realistic about the trial, but that he hoped Bolt could help the club on its mission to be “the most innovative, entertaining and community minded sports brand in Australia.”
"Having Usain Bolt come to the club to train and hopefully develop into a professional football player is perfectly aligned to this part of the club's philosophy," Mielekamp said.
"It is important that we don't get too caught up in the hype of possibilities, but the reality is that Usain Bolt has placed his faith in the Central Coast Mariners to accelerate his football journey.
"Whilst we all know this must be tempered with the reality that there is a job to do and hard work ahead, we are committed to building a team that will win matches and instil belief.
"Hopefully Usain can help us on this mission," he added.
Bolt is a huge football fan, and has been seen taking part in numerous charity games, including at Soccer Aid at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium back in June, when he scored in the penalty shootout and picked up the man of the match award.
The sprinter is a massive Manchester United fan, and regularly posts on social media about the team. He was also in attendance at the World Cup final in Moscow on July 15.
He retired from athletics last summer after the World Championships in London, when he claimed a bronze medal in the 100m.
He remains the world record holder at the 100m – with a time of 9.58 seconds – and the 200m, where he has clocked 19.19 seconds.
The new A-League season kicks off in October, and the Mariners will be hoping to improve on last season’s showing, when they finished bottom of the league.