Head start for Bolt as fans cheer Dortmund training session

Usain Bolt during his first training session with Borussia Dortmund yesterday. He scored with a header and nutmegged one opponent by knocking the ball between his legs.
Usain Bolt during his first training session with Borussia Dortmund yesterday. He scored with a header and nutmegged one opponent by knocking the ball between his legs.PHOTO: REUTERS

DORTMUND (Germany) • Naysayers have dismissed eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt's training link-up with Borussia Dortmund as a marketing stunt, given that Puma are shareholders in the German Bundesliga club and sponsor their kit, while they also sponsor the retired sprinter.

But try telling that to the cheering crowd of 1,500 who were gathered in the stands of Dortmund's training ground for yesterday's morning session in which the Jamaican took part, with tens of thousands more watching the live stream on social media.

Bolt had the chance to show off his football skills, nutmegging an opponent by knocking the ball through his legs before scoring with a header as he trained.

Dozens of reporters and camera crews were spread out beside the pitch as Bolt appeared alongside Dortmund midfielders Mario Goetze and Julian Weigl.

He warmed up with the pair as fans, some waving Jamaica flags, cheered on a chilly and overcast Ruhr valley morning.

Goetze praised Bolt, who said he had "fun with the guys and they were very welcoming", for not looking out of place among pros.

"I think it worked out quite well, he felt comfortable, we were able to integrate it well. It was a cool action," the Germany international said on the club's Twitter account.

Dortmund had agreed in January to let Bolt train with the team.

The 31-year-old, a big Manchester United fan who ended his track career last year, joked after a charity match on Thursday that he hoped his Dortmund appearance would lead to a contract with the Premier League club.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2018, with the headline 'Head start for Bolt as fans cheer Dortmund training session'. Print Edition | Subscribe