Multiple Olympic speed champion Usain Bolt had his first training session with Australia’s Central Coast Mariners on Tuesday and said he is prepared to prove those who doubt his ability to play football wrong.
Followed by a host of media outlets, Bolt, who turned 32 on Tuesday, stepped out onto the Central Coast field with his potential teammates, smiling brightly as he kicked the ball during a light practice in the quiet coastal town of Gosford.
The winner of eight Olympic gold medals is on trial in the team. There are many doubts as to whether the world’s fastest man can reinvent himself as a footballer, and there was little to suggest in the closed session that he can make the transition.
The Jamaican was heavy on the 45-minute workout and was excluded from the main group when the players practiced eight players per team. Bolt spent the last part of the session doing stretching exercises.
Bolt said he takes things to step by step. “For me, it’s like athletics,” he told reporters. “The first day of training is always the hardest (…) I felt good, I know it will take time and work and I am ready to work.
Bolt, who retired from athletics at the World Championships in London last year, had already trained with German Borussia Dortmund, South African Mamelodi Sundowns and Norwegian Stromsgodset.
“I am here. For me, people are always going to say what they want,” he said. “Like when I was running, people said a lot of things about me, but I always proved them wrong. So this is another time to prove people wrong.