Lawrence Okoye is aiming for graduation day in Olympics discus
21:00 GMT, 28 April 2012
Lawrence Okoye turned his back on a career as a professional rugby player — and may yet do the same to a place at Oxford University — but he believes the reward, a likely medal at the London Olympics, will justify the sacrifices.
The 20-year-old from Croydon is the
British record holder in the discus after throwing 67.63metres last
summer, a mark achieved despite taking up the event only in 2010.
The time has come: Lawrence Okoye turned his back on a career in professional rugby for his Olympic discus dream
Nine days ago and with immaculate timing in the build-up to the Olympics, he threw 66.67m — the best in the world this year — in California.
‘I’d like to think I can throw a lot further by the Olympics,’ said Okoye.
‘I just need the experience of going up against the best before the Games begin. Then Well, who knows’
Okoye, 6ft 6in and 21st, first came to sporting prominence playing rugby for Whitgift School in Croydon.
He joined the London Irish academy and, despite the offer of a place reading law at Oxford, was set for a gap year playing rugby for Esher in the Championship.
But a friend who had taken up the discus encouraged him to return to an event in which he had competed at English Schools Championship level.
‘I went to the same coach, John Hillier, and after six weeks I threw 63.92m, the second best in the world ever for my age group,’ said Okoye.
‘John told me I’d make the British team for the London Olympics, which is a oncein- a-lifetime opportunity, so I decided to give it a go. Discus throwers don’t peak until their late twenties, so there could be at least three Olympics in me.’
Okoye is unsure whether he will take up Oxford’s offer.
‘I won’t be able to pick up the sport again in four or five years’ time. You’ve got to grab the chance when it comes.’