Sport Football ‘For real’: World’s fastest man Usain Bolt touches down in Sydney for A-League trial

‘For real’: World’s fastest man Usain Bolt touches down in Sydney for A-League trial

The retired eight-time Olympic gold medalist remains the world record holder in the 100m, 200m and 4 × 100m relay. Photo: AAP
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Wearing a Central Coast Mariners scarf as he prepares for his A-League trial, former sprint king Usain Bolt has touched down in Sydney ahead of his much-anticipated open-ended trial with the club.

After a 14-hour flight from Los Angeles, Bolt briefly greeted a bunch of Mariners fans and a media pack at Sydney international Airport on Saturday before being whisked away in a black van.

He told the waiting pack that the trial was “for real” and he was excited to hit the training paddock on Tuesday.

Central Coast Mariners couldn’t contain their excitement, posting on Twitter: “usainbolt has landed”.

“The next step of his football journey is underway. Don’t think limits.”

The eight-time Olympic gold medallist and 11-time world champion is in the country for 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.

“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.

-with AAP