After dominating track and field during a legendary career, Usain Bolt is looking for his next challenge.
The Jamaican sprint star has long been a fan of football and on Wednesday, he got the chance to show off his skills in the Hublot Match of Friendship – a game between former athletes with the teams coached by Jose Mourinho and Diego Maradona.
Bolt was joined by Patrick Kluivert, Robbie Keane and others as part of Mourinho’s squad, while Maradona’s side featured the likes of Roberto Carlos, Marco Materazzi and Hernan Crespo.
The contest finished in an 11-11 draw, but Bolt was ecstatic to strap up his boots and hit the pitch to show what he can do.
“For me, I’m always a big fan of football. I want to join and be part of the soccer community,” Bolt said. “They approached us and for me it was easy because I like to give back and do charity. So for me it was good.”
Bolt is widely considered one of the greatest Olympians ever, having won gold eight times while being part of three world record runs – 100m (9.58 seconds), 200m (19.19s) and the 4x100m relay (36.84s).
He’s seemingly done it all as an athlete, but still just 31, Bolt wants to try his hand at something else and football is on his radar as one of his passions.
“I’ve done everything that I want to do in the sport (track and field). This is why I’m trying to move on to football because it would be a new challenge, something difficult for me to do and to challenge me and that’s what I want,” Bolt said.
“Track and field, that’s how it started out. It was very challenging and I had to work to get great, so for me, I want to do something else that will challenge me.”
September 2009 and Gary Ablett lifts the Premiership trophy above his head and shakes it under the bright lights of the sold-out 100,000 capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Geelong have just secured another flag – their second in three years – and are back among the AFL’s elite.
Central to their victory was 26-year-old Ablett – who would end the year with a Brownlow Medal (football’s equivalent of the Ballon d’Or) with many believing he could be ranked among the greats of the game.
But like all things in life and professional sport – nothing is secure – and in 2011 crowd favourite Ablett pitched up north and signed a lucrative long-term deal with a fledging Gold Coast side.
Driven by a ‘new challenge’ and, no doubt, the $1.4 million (Dh3.5m) per year salary, his loss was significant to Geelong and – aside from success in 2011 – six winless years followed at Kardinia Park.
But, now the king has returned home and fans will be praying he is the missing final piece in the Premiership puzzle – especially after a 51 point scorching to Adelaide Crows in the preliminary finals last September.
At 33, Ablett has made no secret of his desire to help Geelong revive their fortunes, and although he may not have the same zip in his legs to single-handedly win games, he has some trusted assassins alongside him to share the class and influence.
His presence alongside 2016 Brownlow medalist Patrick Dangerfield and captain Joel Selwood will see three of the top 10 players in the game stationed in the same midfield.
In football, there was Barcelona’s MSN – Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar – now at Geelong there is an equal equivalent.
The three players have accumulated a total of 580 Brownlow Medal votes in their respective careers and present a menacing threat for the other 17 clubs in this year’s competition.
In 2017, Dangerfield was second in the voting after an impressive season in which he averaged 30 disposals, six tackles and 4.5 marks a game. Selwood was similarly outstanding, with 25 touches and five tackles per outing.
Ablett – voted the league’s most valuable player five times by his peers – averaged 33 disposals and 5.5 tackles a game in his 14 appearances for the Suns in 2017.
Dangerfield and Selwood have averaged 21 games per season, while Ablett has averaged just 15 since 2013 due to a litany of injuries.
Do these numbers suggest there is a case that the Cats trio could form the most dangerous combination in history?
After 12 weeks of pre-season training, the new campaign gets underway on Thursday with defending champions Richmond in action against Carlton at the MCG.
The league will see each team play 23 matches across the five month season with the top eight teams advancing to the preliminary finals in September.
If beaten in the first preliminary game, a team will still have a chance to go on and advance to the next round. The top two teams at the end will contest the Grand Final on September 29.
With Richmond, Adelaide, Sydney and Greater Western Sydney all in contention to win the flag – the Cats need to kick-start a strong run of form and challenge for a place in the top eight.
If they can achieve this and get to the preliminary finals again, then anything is possible beyond August.
But before a ball is even kicked, some football fans will point to a potential overreliance on the star trio with other younger players possibly taking a backward step when Ablett et al. are around the action.
In Mitch Duncan, Tim Kelly, Cam Guthrie and Mark Blicavs, the Cats possess four deep and imposing runners who can step up and trouble any defence if a senior player is underperforming.
Ablett may be going into his 17th season, but aside from his injury profile he has buckets load of football in him, the experience to inspire younger players and plenty to prove on the grand stage.
His presence will also allow Dangerfield the license to go forward – who kicked a career best 45 goals in 2016 – with his five-goal display against Hawthorn in round 17 further proof of his proficiency.
The hype surrounding the Cats is certainly high, but with Ablett turning 34 in July, Selwood 30 in May and Dangerfield 28 in April – this could be one of their last years to win a Premiership with such star names in their ranks.
There are champions in this Geelong line-up, but they need to beat talented outfits like the Swans and the Crows to prove this over the course of the campaign.
Fifth favourites as it stands, expect the men from Southwest Melbourne to be stepping out at the MCG on Grand Final day.
The UAE joined countries around the world to celebrate Grey Day, with one of the world’s leading sneaker communities.
Cultural events across the globe were held in honour of New Balance’s iconic 574 silhouette, a global icon in the sneaker world. Such is the popularity of the shoe, which was originally released in the late 80s; the grey colour has since become synonymous with the brand itself. After a popular re-launch of the shoe in 2013, the brand have continued to market the timeless design with ‘Grey Day’, a series of events around the world celebrating the colour palette, which is widely recognised by trainer fanatics.
New Balance were ground-breaking with the launch of the 620 running shoe, originally released in 1980, as it was the first sneaker to offer a full grey upper on the urban running scene. Two years later the grey New Balance 990 was also released to challenge the popular culture at the time. It was the first-ever $100 running shoe and released in grey, which ironically, was a bold move in a market saturated with bright neon running shoes.
At the ‘Grey Day’ events the company released the 574 with distinct colourways along with a ‘Legacy of Grey’ edition of the 574 inspired by the original 990 colourway. A ‘Classic Grey’ theme made its way onto the casual shoe too.
Grey Day was celebrated in the fashion capitals of the world including Dubai, London, Madrid, Paris and Milan. Guests were treated to live music, interactive timelines from the brand’s campaigns and art exhibitions talks, with a focal point centered around the famous “N” logo. The events referenced the classic’s transcendence from its running roots to a fashion staple with a photo exhibition highlighting the timeless 574 sneaker.
Now one of the most recognised sneaker brands on the planet, New Balance record annual sales close to $4 billion dollars with five factories across the United States.