MELBOURNE:Usain Bolt will be granted all the time he needs to prove himself worthy of a contract at the Central Coast Mariners but the retired athletics superstar will have to prove himself like any other player, officials at the struggling Australian soccer club have said.
The Mariners confirmed on Tuesday the Olympics sprint champion would train “indefinitely” with the club, which finished bottom of the 10-team A-League last season and operates in one of the country’s smallest soccer markets.The open-ended arrangement has proved polarising in Australia, with critics dismissing it as a publicity stunt to boost the profile of a team that has failed to make the playoffs for the last four seasons.
The Mariners, however, defended the move on Wednesday, saying it had the potential to reap huge long-term benefits should Bolt make the grade. “This may take three weeks, this may take three months, this may take six months. It may take longer, who knows?” club CEO Shaun Mielekamp told reporters at their home base in Gosford.“Only time will tell but it’s exciting to see what this will do for our region.”
Bolt, who won eight Olympics golds before retiring at the World Championships in London last year, has trained with Germany’s Borussia Dortmund and South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns. —