GOSFORD, Australia (AP) Usain Bolt says his performance in a trial game on Friday could determine his future with the Central Coast Mariners in Australia’s A-League and his quest to play professional football.
The eight-time Olympic sprinting champion is expected to start for the Mariners against a Macarthur South West United team in western Sydney. United plays in a second-tier competition.
“This is going to be a big game. I think it will determine if the club makes up its mind on what to do with my career,” Bolt said Wednesday.
The Mariners begin the A-League regular season on Oct. 21 in Brisbane against the Roar. Bolt, who holds the 100- and 200-meter world records, has retired from competitive track and field.
After being used as a winger in his first brief trial appearance in late August, Bolt hinted at a positional change for the match at Sydney’s Campbelltown Stadium.
Coach Mike Mulvey “said he wants to play me up top more,” Bolt said. “The couple of games that I played, I didn’t play with the first team.
“There’s a few first-team boys in the team for Friday. So I’ll get different service, better service, because they’re more seasoned and more mature. So he just told me to make sure I’m focused and push myself, and I’ll just take the chances when I get them.”
The 32-year-old Jamaican track great said was pleased with his progress in football.
“That’s always a good step, when coaches are satisfied with the fitness to put me in the starting lineup. That’s always a big step,” Bolt said. “I can say I’ve been improving, (but) you won’t know what level you’re at until you actually play a competitive game.”
In late September, Mulvey said he could wait until January before making a final decision on Bolt’s status with the team.
Bolt saw his first action for the Mariners on Aug. 31, playing 20 minutes against a Central Coast invitational side. He played the entire second half against the North Shore Mariners on Sept. 19, when he alternated between left wing and forward.