Okoye commits future to discus until 2017 World Championships in London
23:01 GMT, 27 September 2012
Olympic finalist and British discus record holder Lawrence Okoye has committed himself to athletics for the next five years, ruling out a switch in sports to rugby union and once again deferring his entry into Oxford University to study law.
Okoye rejected advances from Aviva Premiership clubs as an 18-year-old in 2010 to focus on pursuing his Olympic dream, but such was his disappointment at finishing 12th in the final at London 2012 he openly admitted last month that he was considering his future in the sport.
However, with the Olympic dust now well and truly settled the world No 5, who also deferred entry to Oxford two years ago, has opted to continue throwing.
Committed: Okoye had been considering his future following the Olympics
'I have decided that I am definitely going to keep on throwing in the immediate future,' Okoye, 20, told Sportsmail after he had completed a one-off training session with Saracens. 'I am just waiting for confirmation from Oxford to see how they're going to structure that (the deferral), that should arrive in the next few days.'
Okoye, who stands at 6ft5in and weighs in at 20st, was a promising wing in his Whitgift School days. He won the Daily Mail Schools' Rugby Under 18 Cup in 2010 alongside London Irish star Marland Yarde and was part of the academy set-ups at Irish and then London Wasps before choosing discus.
But although he has stopped short of ruling out a potential career in rugby altogether, Okoye has pledged to continue athletics until 2017, by which time he will be 25 and, he hopes, will have competed in two World Championships – in Moscow next year and in London in 2017 – and at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
When asked if he had completely written off the possibility of playing rugby professionally, Okoye added: 'I think the next five years are definitely going to be dominated by athletics. There is another Olympiad where I'll be looking to win a medal and then there will be the World Championships in London in 2017.
Turning back the clock: Okoye joined Saracens for a training session this week
'After that, again, I'll have a look at everything, but at the moment all I'm focusing on is next year, we've got the World Championships in Moscow and I'm looking forward to hopefully winning a medal there.'
Okoye's British Record throw of 68.24m – set in May of this year – would have won him an Olympic silver medal last month, so to throw seven metres short of that and finish in last place was a big blow to take.
But while that disappointment still lingers, when Okoye reflects on his fledgling career to date he admits he is delighted with how things have gone so far.
'Looking at the whole picture from 2010 to 2012, I'm very pleased with how I have progressed,' said Okoye.
'I'm ranked fifth in the world now, if you would have told me that when I was 18 I would have told you that you were talking nonsense.
Brit of all right: Okoye holds the British record
'My actual performance in the final I'm not very happy with, I'm better than 12th in the world, but that's just the way it went on that day and it's an experience that will stay with me and be one that I can use to my advantage in the future.
'Long-term I'm very pleased, short-term maybe not so much, but I've got several years to fix that. I am only 20 years old, I was the youngest in the final by four years and the guys that won were all much older than me, so I've got to take all the positives from that and use them going forward.'
With his future now decided, a recuperated Okoye is ready to put this summer behind him when he resumes training on Monday. His gaze is firmly focused on Moscow in 11 months time, and he hopes that success there next year will help him to become world No 1 by the next Olympics.
'It was obviously an amazing experience (London 2012) but I'm not one for nostalgia, I am going to keep moving forward and hopefully bring a medal home next year from Moscow,' said Okoye.
Onwards and upwards: Okoye is targeting the World Championships in Moscow next year
'I've had a couple of weeks off. I start training again on Monday so I'm looking forward to that. It's been important both mentally and physically to get some rest but now I'm looking forward to getting stuck in again.
'I'm not targeting Rio yet, I'm targeting 2013 in Moscow, but by Rio I hope to be world No 1.
'I don't really focus four or five years ahead, that's nonsensical to me, I have got to think about the here and now and 2013 is very much my target. I'm certainly looking to challenge for the gold medal and hopefully bring it back for the UK.'
Although he won't be pursuing a career in the oval-ball game for the next five years at least, Okoye admitted he enjoyed getting his hands on a rugby ball for the first time in two years while training with the likes of England internationals Chris Ashton and Owen Farrell at Saracens.
'I had a good run-out with the Saracens boys,' said Okoye. 'We played a bit of touch, my handling skills are still there so it was all good.
One-off: Okoye says he won't be playing rugby again any time soon
'It was very light, nothing too serious. But it was great fun to see their patterns, see how they move. It was an enjoyable day.
'They were very much focused on their squad, their game against Harlequins this weekend, but it was good that I kept the standard high, I could move with the guys and I was able to keep up.'
Okoye though, says he won't be playing any more rugby in his spare time once he resumes training.
'For me it's all or nothing,' he added. 'If I'm not going to give 100 per cent to something I'm not going to do it.'
And that 100 per cent, UK Athletics fans will be pleased to know, will be dedicated to throwing the discus for the next five years.
Aviva are proud title sponsors of Premiership Rugby and has been backing British athletes and the GB & NI team since 1999