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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

5 alternative sports Usain Bolt could try if he doesn't make it as a footballer

What else could the Jamaican sprint king turn his hand to if his dream of becoming a professional footballer falls through?

Usain Bolt is hoping to win a professional football contract with A-League side Central Coast Mariners. EPA
Usain Bolt is hoping to win a professional football contract with A-League side Central Coast Mariners. EPA

Usain Bolt must hold the record for longest trial at a football club in history.

The eight-time Olympic gold medallist touched down in Sydney on August 18 to begin training with the Central Coast Mariners in the hope of securing a professional contract with the A-League club.

The 32-year-old Jamaican made his debut on August 31 as a 72nd-minute substitute against an amateur select side in which the Mariners ran out 6-0 winners and Bolt looked well off the pace, even in a 20-minute cameo.

On October 12 Bolt scored his first goals for the Mariners in a 4-0 pre-season friendly. But his brace comes with two caveats: the opposition - Macarthur South West United - are also an amateur side, and the second of Bolt's strikes was a simple tap in.

Even Bolt's first goal needs some analysis. The 100-metre world record holder's control as he ran through on goal resembled a dog chasing a balloon on a windy day in a big field before beating the goalkeeper at his near post. You suspect most elite-level forwards would have drilled across the goalkeeper.

It may seem harsh to criticise a player for scoring, but it forms part of the wider picture about Bolt's all-round technical ability. Bolt has shown plenty of pace - as you would expect from the fastest man on earth - but his touch suggests he would struggle to trap a bag of cement.

Most trialists in other professional leagues are given a week to impress prospective clubs. If they do, they are usually signed up or invited back for another week's trial before finalising agreeing a contract.

Bolt has had over two months to show the Mariners he is worth a professional contract. None has been forthcoming, which either means the club has doubts over whether he can make the grade, or are worried how they will finance a deal for Bolt, who is reported to be holding out for an Aus$3 million (almost Dh8 million) a year contract, without the help of Football Federation Australia (FFA)'s fund reserved to lure marquee players.

Bolt, an ardent Manchester United fan, on Thursday turned down an offer of a professional contract from Maltese club Valletta FC, according to his agent, to pursue his dream to become a professional footballer in Australia.

But in footballing terms, 32 is long in the tooth to begin a career in which most other players sign professional forms at 16.

A letter from M Smalberger in Wednesday's edition of The National got us thinking. The Abu Dhabi resident wrote: "I write in reference to your article Usain Bolt has been offered a two-year contract by UAE-backed Valletta FC (October 17): good for him. I wish he would sign up for rugby sevens. That’s where his speed would be most useful."

The reader hit the nail on the head: Bolt is pursuing totally the wrong sport for his considerable attributes.

With that in mind, here is a list of other sports Bolt could try his hand at.

1. Rugby sevens

M Smalberger is a genius - Bolt would be fantastic at sevens. Just get the ball in his hands and watch him motor past even the most jet-heeled defenders. Who is going to keep up with a man who covers more than 10 metres per second?

Usain Bolt takes part in an exhibition match in Bangalore, India, in September 2014. AFP
Usain Bolt takes part in an exhibition match in Bangalore, India, in September 2014. AFP

2. Cricket

The Caribbean has a long and rich history of producing superb cricketers, and Jamaican Bolt has some background in the gentleman's game. In September 2014 he took part in a four-over exhibition match in Bangalore against a side led by Indian great Yuvrah Singh - and won. He also helped coach the Australia cricket team be more "explosive" running between wickets ahead of the 2017-18 Ashes series against England. The complete all-rounder.

Usain Bolt adopts his trademark celebration after winning the Men's 200m Final at the London Olympics PA
Usain Bolt adopts his trademark celebration after winning the Men's 200m Final at the London Olympics. PA

3. Basketball

Tall, rangy, athletic and able to control a ball with his hands instead of his feet. Close your eye and picture Bolt doing his signature lightning pose after a slum dunk? It ticks all the boxes.

Steve Redgrave, left, and Andrew Holmes celebrate after winning the coxless pairs rowing at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. Getty Images
Steve Redgrave, left, and Andrew Holmes celebrate after winning the coxless pairs rowing at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. Getty Images

4. Rowing

At 1.95 metres and with hardly an ounce of fat on him, Bolt has the build of a Steve Redgrave, the greatest Olympian of all time in rowing. While Bolt is used to pumping his legs on dry land, they would probably work just as well on a boat on water.

The Jamaican bobsleigh team competing at the 1988 WInter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. Getty Images
The Jamaican bobsleigh team competing at the 1988 WInter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. Getty Images

5. Bobsleigh

OK, so this might be a stretch, but inspired by the 1993 film Cool Runnings, about the Jamaican bobsleigh team's unlikely qualification for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, just imagine Bolt suiting up and powering future teams on a downhill run in the snow. It works, right?

6. Don't let Bolt ...

Do any sort of motorsports. If Bolt's reaction to being driven around the Circuit of the Americas during the 2017 United States Grand Prix by Lewis Hamilton is anything to go buy, Bolt should stick to tracks of the running kind.

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Read more:

Usain Bolt turns down two-year contract from UAE-investor owned Valletta FC

In pictures: Usain Bolt joins Yuvraj Singh for an exhibition cricket match

A-League preview: Season to kick off with Usain Bolt question left hanging

Off the mark: Usain Bolt proud after scoring twice despite painful kick

'I'm not even a professional footballer yet': Usain Bolt fumes over drug test notice