There have been few athletes in history who relished the glare of the television camera like Usain Bolt.
At the peak of his athletic powers, the Jamaican sprint superstar cut a figure near invincible to the gaze of the world, and the anticipation that came with it.
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It will be the ultimate test of his character when he steps out as a Central Coast Mariners triallist against Central Coast Select with the eyes of the world watching.
But according to Connor Pain, it’s a just another chance for Bolt to underline his unrivalled coolness.
The Central Coast Mariners flyer has spent the best part of a fortnight by the 32-year-old’s side as Bolt and his teammates gear up for tonight’s friendly in Gosford.
Bolt watched from the sidelines during the Mariners’ friendly encounter with Newcastle, but offered a pearl of wisdom in the dressing room before the game to settle the Mariners’ pre- game nerves.
“We asked him, ‘when you’re lining up on the track for the 100-metre sprint, it’s a bit of a big man’s sport, do you get nervous?”, Pain recalls.
“He said: ‘no, not if I’ve done the preparation right. He’s so confident in himself. It’s a testament to himself, he’s very humble and you can approach him and talk to him, but that quiet confidence that he knows he was the best in his sport and his event, that can rub off on the boys.”
“We learn a lot from him on the mental side of things more than anything,” Pain continued.
“His determination and his drive to become the best… almost that quiet arrogance or confidence that’s got him to the point where he is now.”
Bolt's confidence rubbing off on teammates
Bolt’s arrival has clearly galvanised Pain and his Mariners teammates, who says the Jamaican’s presence reflects a new drive and belief emanating at the Gosford club.
Pain says Bolt’s ability to match his supreme confidence with humility has left a big impression on the Mariners. The 32-year-old mostly keeps to himself and celebrated his birthday last week with coffee at Erina’s The Tame Fox.
He’s been asking for consistent feedback from the Mariners coaching staff, who appear to have designated him a space on the left wing should he appear in tonight’s friendly. But will Bolt’s enthusiasm be enough to impress in the field of battle?
“No matter how much football you play growing up, nothing compares to being thrown into the thick of it,” Pain said.
“One thing you can’t fault about the guy is his attitude. He’s been at training absolutely trying his best to adapt and to join in every passing drill he can.
“He’s trying to feed off all the coaches and the boys as well. From that perspective you can’t fault him at all.”
Mulvey names provisional squad for Friday's clash
1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 3.Jack CLISBY, 4.Jake McGING, 5.Antony GOLEC, 6.Tom HIARIEJ, 8.Michael McGLINCHEY, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Adam PEARCE (gk), 14.Adam BERRY, 15.Kye ROWLES, 16.Josh MACDONALD, 17.Peter KEKERIS, 18.Matthew MILLAR, 19.Matt SIMON, 20.Kalifa CISSE, 22.Jacob MELLING, 23.Mario SHABOW, 24.Joe GAUCI (gk), 25.Jordan MURRAY, 26.Josh NISBET (academy), 27.Andrija MAJDEVAC (trialist), 95.Usain BOLT (trialist)