Olympic track great Usain Bolt’s fledgling football career has received a boost, scoring two second-half goals for Central Coast after struggling early in an A-League pre-season game in southwestern Sydney.
Playing in a central striking role against A-League aspirants Macarthur South West United, Bolt battled in the first half, but flourished after the break before being substituted by the Mariners at the 75-minute mark.
Bolt showed good strength to hold off a defender and race onto a Ross McCormack through-ball before beating the goalkeeper at the near post with a fierce left-foot shot in the 55th minute.
He promptly produced his famous lightning bolt celebration.
Just over 10 minutes later, he doubled his tally when he capitalised on a defensive mix-up to pounce on a loose ball and tap in from a few metres out.
Just under 6,000 people turned up on Friday night at Campbelltown Sports Stadium and they gave Bolt plenty of support whenever he touched the ball, especially one enthusiastic horn blower.
“Scoring a goal in your first proper match, the first start and scoring two goals, it was a good feeling,” Bolt told Fox Sports.
“Because this is what I’ve worked for. I’ve tried to prove myself, I’ve tried to get better.
“I think I’ve improved in every area. I think my touch is that little bit better; my vision needs to improve a little bit more.
“I think my running off the ball is where I’ve improved most.”
Before his double, Bolt wasn’t always convincing, either in his finishing or in holding and distributing possession.
As early as the second minute, he broke clear but wasn’t able to get a shot on goal, as he lost the ball before getting to the penalty area.
In the 23rd minute, he regained the ball in the penalty area after losing it, but his close-range shot came off a defender and was comfortably saved.
He came close in the 39th minute when he had his best moment of the first half.
The 195-centimetre tall Jamaican made a strong, well-timed run and jump at a left-wing cross from Tommy Oar, winning an aerial contest and putting a firm header just outside the post.
Bolt spent a minute of the first half in pain on the ground after being struck in the groin by the ball.
McCormack and Jordan Murray scored the Mariners’ other goals in their 4-0 win in their final pre-season hit out.