A League club Central Coast Mariners are leaving no stone unturned in a bid to get Olympic legend Usain Bolt’s professional football career up and running.
The eight-time Olympic gold medallist and 11-time world champion touched down in Sydney early on Saturday ahead of what the Mariners are calling an “indefinite training period.”
The club hopes to turn him into A-League material in just three months, with a view to offering the Jamaican a full-time contract in time for the start of the 2018/19 season in late-October.
To that end, the Mariners have poured additional coaching and high-performance resources into the project, which both parties insist is not a stunt.
“I’ve said all along this is for real and I’m here to show what I can do,” said Bolt upon landing, where he was greeted by a large media pack and a group of diehard fans.
“I know what I’m capable of and I know what I can do, so this is the opportunity.”
The Mariners have carved a large lightning bolt into the grass at Gosford’s Central Coast Stadium, engaged the services of a videographer to capture Bolt’s time at the club and several club officials, including CEO Shaun Mielekamp, rolled out the welcome mat at the airport.
Chairman of the Mariners’ official supporters’ group, Mark Leadbeatter, made the hour-plus drive south to catch a glimpse of the Bolt show.
“I was certainly interested when I first heard the news. It’s out of the box and the more I’ve heard about it, the more I’ve come to embrace it,” said the British ex-pat, who adopted the Mariners as his team when arriving in Australia 13 years ago.
“Nothing’s impossible. As long as it’s based on football principles, why not? I get the impression that he’s been genuine about this and so has the club.”
Although Bolt may do some light running over the next couple of days, Tuesday will be his first official training session, coinciding with his 32nd birthday.