Olympic sprint hero Usain Bolt has made the leap from track and field to football after hooking up with Australian A-League outfit Central Coast Mariners.
A statement from the club says that Bolt, 31, has “committed to an indefinite training period” with the Mariners, “with the aim to develop the ‘world’s fastest man’ into a professional footballer.
This is by no means the first time Bolt has trained with a professional club. The eight-time Olympic gold medallist has had training sessions with Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund, South African side Mamelodi Sundowns and Norwegian outfit Stromsgodset.
But this may be the first time he’s made a clear commitment to transitioning from athletics to football.
Bolt has made no secret of his desire to become a professional player, and his world-class athleticism – not to mention his global star power – will certainly help give him a chance.
Bolt will hook up with the Mariners later this month, and says he can’t wait to join the team and put in the hard work in a bid to prove his worth as a potential squad member further down the line.
“I am very excited about coming to Australia and would like to thank the owner and management of the Central Coast Mariners for giving me this opportunity,” he said.
“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.
“When I spoke to the Head Coach Mike Mulvey on the phone he outlined the ambitions of the club and his plans for the upcoming season.
“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.
“I always say that ‘anything is possible, don’t think limits’ and I look forward to the challenge.”
While the arrival of Bolt at the club – albeit only on a developmental arrangement – will bring huge attention to the Mariners, the club’s CEO Shaun Mielekamp said the focus will be on testing the former track star to see if he has what it takes to become a professional player at A-League level.
“Our goal is to be the most innovative, entertaining and community minded sports brand in Australia, this is our competitive edge,” he said.
“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.
“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 instill belief, hopefully Usain can help us on this mission.
“We welcome Usain with open arms, and we will always remain grounded and focussed on the job at hand. I also look forward to seeing the Central Coast catching the attention of sports lovers all over the world.
“Sports lovers who will join us and dare to dream, sports lovers who truly believe that only those who are brave enough to try and do the impossible are capable of achieving anything.”