Former Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, is embarking on his second career with his first love. This year Bolt signed a professional contract to play soccer for the Central Coast Mariners of the Australian A-League, which is their top professional league. In his first start for Central Coast on Friday night in their final preseason game — a match against a team of all-star players from the second division — Sports Illustrated reports that Bolt made his case by scoring two goals in an emphatic 4-0 victory for the Mariners.
Bolt is on trial with Central Coast this summer, and has been in danger of being cut from the team. In his only other appearance this preseason, he entered the team’s August 31st game late in his first taste of professional soccer. There, he missed a strike, showed a disappointing first touch, passed poorly, and struggled with his conditioning. Over the past six weeks, Bolt has steadily improved — finally earning the chance to start in his final evaluation before player cuts are made.
Wearing number 95 in honor of his own world record of 9.58 seconds in the 100-meter dash, Bolt’s speed makes him a tantalizing and dangerous option as a striker, but he has so far lacked the skill to compete at the professional level. However, on Friday he showed improvement in that department. His first professional goal was a solid piece of play, as he beat defenders to a chipped through ball, showed some physical play to separate himself from the defender while also corralling the ball onto his left foot, then coolly beat the goaltender low to the short side.
— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) October 12, 2018
Later — in the 68th minute with Central Coast leading 3-0 — Bolt struck again for the brace. Bolt applied pressure in the box as the center back tried to shield him while controlling a descending ball. However, both the center back and the goaltender were looking upwards as the ball came down and went for it at the same time — not seeing each other. Their resulting collision allowed the ball to drop harmlessly to the turf, where Bolt was waiting. He walked the loose ball to the goal line and tucked it into the net for his second goal of the night.
“I’m happy I could come here and show the world I’m improving,” said Bolt. “I’m keen to be a Mariner, to play my best and get into the team.”
“I think I made some slight mistakes but I’m happy to get the chance and I’m proud of myself,” Bolt continued.
Bolt later posted on his Instagram account, “Dreams become reality through hard work.”