Olympic champ Bolt makes modest Mariners debut in friendly


Reuters –  Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt came off the bench to kick-start his football career with Australia’s Central Coast Mariners in a pre-season friendly at Gosford on Friday (August 31), but later conceded that he will need more time to get up to speed.

The 32-year-old Jamaican, who is hoping to win a professional contract ahead of the Mariners’ 2018-19 A-League campaign, was greeted by a crowd of nearly 10,000 as he stepped onto the pitch at the team’s base north of Sydney in the 72nd minute against an amateur select side.

With the Mariners already leading 6-0, a relaxed Bolt pulled off a few stepovers on the left wing and was inches away from connecting with a close-range tap-in. After Central Coast sealed a 6-1 victory, Bolt acknowledged that he will need at least four months to build up his fitness levels and perform at his peak on the football pitch.

Bolt’s attempt to transform himself from global athletics superstar to professional soccer player has generated huge publicity for the struggling Mariners, who finished bottom of the 10-team A-league last season.