FanDuel - WFBC

August 08, 2012

Usain Bolt Will Get Man United Tryout: After Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt discussed his love of soccer following his gold medal finish in the men's 100-meter final, the world's fastest human is getting a trial with Manchester United. "We would love to have him along," a team source said. Defender Rio Ferdinand was making his own appeal on Twitter. "If you want that trial at Man Utd shout me," he tweeted. "Iíll speak to the boss. Well done in 100m."

posted by rcade to soccer at 12:30 PM - 14 comments

It would be a pure publicity stunt for both sides. What legitimate chance would he have of cracking even the reserve squad, and why would he play for real if he's in the prime of his track career (age 25)?

posted by jjzucal at 01:39 PM on August 08

What legitimate chance would he have of cracking even the reserve squad, and why would he play for real if he's in the prime of his track career (age 25)?

Chance, dunno, I've never seen him play. In terms of why, I don't know if he has anything else to prove in terms of sprinting and even if he does, taking two years to play soccer and returning to the track wouldn't be tragic.

A bunch of Olympic athletes have crossed over to other sports in other years (Clara Hughes for Canada did speed skating and cycling; Heather Moyse played rugby before switching to bobsledding) and done just fine. It's not like his fitness would take a hit...

posted by dfleming at 03:04 PM on August 08

I could see him more as a deep-threat WR, "Hey, just run as fast as you can and I'll throw the ball as hard as I can!"

Or baseball pinch runner.

posted by jmd82 at 03:34 PM on August 08

For soccer, I'd think the muscle fibers in Usain's legs would be the opposite of what's needed. As I understand it, we have fast-twitch as well as slow-twitch muscle fibers, and a sprinter has a lot of the former while a marathoner would have a lot of the latter. Soccer isn't about bursts of incredible speed as it is having the endurance to run, run, run for 90 minutes. Could Usain even keep up with a professional soccer team??

The WR thing has been discussed as well with past sprinters, but it doesn't really work out: you run fast, sure, but that doesn't mean you can catch a ball (much harder than it looks), or can/want totake the kinds of hits even WR's will take. American football is, as has been discussed here in other threads, particularly famous as a brutal, punishing sport.

As for baseball? That's been tried, unsurprisingly with Charlie Finley of the A's back in the 70's, when he had a "Designated Runner" in sprinter Herb Washington. It also didn't work that well; he was fast, but did not really have the instincts or training to be a good baserunner.

posted by hincandenza at 04:57 PM on August 08

Two words: Michael Jordan.

posted by phaedon at 06:58 PM on August 08

I think it mostly a publicity stunt, and agree with jmd82, that he might actually excel at wide receiver in American football ... a la Renaldo Nehemiah?

posted by scully at 08:53 PM on August 08

I could see him more as a deep-threat WR

jmd ... any relationship to Al Davis? Enough said.

Two words: Michael Jordan

Yes, but there's always the other 2 words : Bo Jackson

Seriously, his best bet is probably swimming, although I haven't watched him enough to see if he has the freakish Phelps-like body proportions required to succeed.

I know of football players who are also pretty damn good at basketball (and the reverse) but have never come across a track star who excelled in a team sport. (Wait .. didn't Bo run track also?)

posted by cixelsyd at 11:43 PM on August 08

Bo don't know jack, 'cause Bo can't rap.

posted by Hugh Janus at 12:33 AM on August 09

Yes, but there's always the other 2 words : Bo Jackson

Yeah but Bo was a recruited high school phenom in both sports. Can it be fairly said that Bolt is also a soccer prodigy? I don't think so.

Playing in a professional sport is not something you "pick up" in your mid-twenties. Although he is admittedly much younger than Jordan...

posted by phaedon at 12:48 AM on August 09

but have never come across a track star who excelled in a team sport.

On a different level, but Robert Griffin III was a highly-ranked junior at both variants of the hurdles. Athletics is increasingly a road less travelled for young American men, even as US colleges nurture some of the world's best from other countries. (No American in the 400m final this time round for the first time in a very long time; Kirani James was pursued by ten colleges, went to Alabama, and won two NCAA titles.)

There's always been the thought that Bolt might move to 200/400m, although it's been accompanied by questions about whether he'd have the commitment to do it. Then again, plenty of people questioned his commitment before this Olympics. Give him his trial, and make sure Rio kicks him a couple of times to get it out of his system.

posted by etagloh at 02:56 AM on August 09

Much against the advice of his coach, Bolt plays football (or soccer if you must) all the time. He's rubbish. As a 100m runner, he's not even the right type of 100m runner to make use of his pace - he's a crap starter who then picks up the slack and smashes everyone to bits by 70 metres. But how often do you have to beat someone over 70 metres in a football match? And even if it comes up, how often could you do it before you'd be blowing bubbles?

The most drastic career move Bolt will make is to run 400m. I heard Kriss Akabusi on the radio last night saying he was sure that's what he'd do for Rio (as in the next Olympics, not the buck-toothed, Jim Henson controlled Man Utd centreback). But I'd echo etagloh and say there have been questions about whether he has the discipline for the much harder training that would come with that. Watching Kirani James the other night, it occurred to me that the 400 is just an out and out sprint event now.

posted by JJ at 05:22 AM on August 09

...[Usain Bolt] might actually excel at wide receiver in American football ... a la Renaldo Nehemiah?

Well, one thing Renaldo Nehemiah had going for him was that he is named "Renaldo Nehemiah." Usain Bolt is a great name, but not as good as Renaldo Nehemiah.

posted by NoMich at 08:04 AM on August 09

Don't a lot of college football teams raid the track team and vice versa? Obviously, they aren't as accomplished as Bolt, but it is not an uncommon thing.

posted by bperk at 10:11 AM on August 09

Why Jamaica doesn't have a world class men's beach Volleyball team is beyond me.

Just sayin . . . .

posted by jeremias at 12:47 PM on August 09

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