August 28 – Retired sprint legend Usain Bolt is set to make his footballing debut for Australian club side Central Coast Mariners saying he will be more nervous than during his illustrious track career when he won eight Olympic gold medals.
Bolt, who has been training with the Australian side in a bid to win a professional football contract, is set to play for the first time on Friday when they take on a team of local amateurs.
The 32-year-old Jamaican has been given an open-ended trial with the Mariners who finished bottom of the 10-team A-League last season.
Some have criticised Bolt for using the trial as a publicity stunt but the Jamaican insists it is a genuine ambition and he is feeling the pressure.
“There will be nerves,” said Bolt ahead of the match at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, New South Wales. “It’s not like it is a charity game anymore, this is a career that I am pursuing.”
The 11-time world sprint champion has been playing as a left winger in training but said he still needs to “get up to pace” with the stop-start nature of football matches.
“Because I’m not used to picking up speed, going back down, up and down, up and down, back and forth, that’s the most challenging,” he said. “I expect to make mistakes but also to make myself proud and to push myself. I know I am not going to have a perfect game.
Coach Mike Mulvey said Bolt was “doing OK” but would take some time “to adjust”.
“The things we are asking him to do are things that he hasn’t done for quite some years. He has played football as an athlete in between athletic meets so he has rudimentary skills. It’s about being able to do it at the speed that we do it.”
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