Usain Bolt to train indefinitely with Australian soccer club

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Usain Bolt will train indefinitely with Australian soccer club Central Coast Mariners starting later this month but is not guaranteed a contract, according to the club.

“I am very excited about coming to Australia and would like to thank the owner and management of the Central Coast Mariners for giving me this opportunity,” Bolt said in a press release. “It has been my dream to play professional football, and I know that it will involve a lot of hard work and training to get to the level required to play and make an impact in the A-League.

“When I spoke to the head coach Mike Mulvey on the phone he outlined the ambitions of the club and his plans for the upcoming season. I hope I can make a positive contribution to the club and look forward to meeting the other players, staff and fans in the coming weeks.”

It was first reported last month that Bolt agreed in principle to join the Central Coast Mariners, a team in Australia’s top division. Nothing was finalized then, and reports later surfaced that a United Soccer League team in Austin, Texas, was in talks with Bolt, too, and a USL team in Las Vegas was interested.

Now that Bolt is committed to the Australian team, it’s worth repeating that the Australian sports agent who first reported the deal last month said Bolt was set for a six-week trial.

“It is important that we don’t get too caught up in the hype of possibilities, but the reality is that Usain Bolt has placed his faith in the Central Coast Mariners to accelerate his football journey,” Central Coast Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp said in Tuesday’s press release. “Whilst we all know this must be tempered with the reality that there is a job to do and hard work ahead, we are committed to building a team that will win matches and instil belief, hopefully Usain can help us on this mission.”

The Central Coast Mariners, based in Gosford in New South Wales, won four matches and lost 15 last season, finishing 10th in the 10-team A-League. There is no relegation in Australian soccer.

The 2018-19 regular season starts in October.

The eight-time Olympic champion Bolt has long harbored dreams of playing pro soccer.

Since retiring last summer, the 31-year-old Jamaican has trained alongside club teams in South Africa, Jamaica and Norway, plus had a much-publicized visit with Borussia Dortmund in March. Bolt and Dortmund share an apparel sponsor in Puma.

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Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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