Okoye relishing challenge of world champion Harting after reaching discus final
11:08 GMT, 29 June 2012
Britain's Lawrence Okoye breathed a sigh of relief after qualifying for his first major championship final in Helsinki.
Okoye, who has deferred a place at Oxford to study law to concentrate on athletics, sprang to prominence last year with a British record of 67.63 metres in the discus which suddenly saw the Londoner – just 19 at the time – being tipped for a gold medal at London 2012.
Such talk appeared premature when the former rugby player failed to qualify for the World Championships just a few weeks later, but the 20-year-old has proved more consistent this year, improving his national record to 68.24m in May and qualifying for the Olympics at last weekend's trials.
Big throw: Lawrence Okoye in action in the men's discus in Helsinki
Final countdown: British hope Okoye
And a second-round effort of 64.86m in qualifying on Friday morning comfortably proved enough for Okoye to advance to Saturday's final at the European Championships.
'I've definitely got more to come,' Okoye said. 'Qualifying is all about just getting through to the final, it's probably the toughest part of the championship so I'm glad I got through pretty well. It'll be fun competing with the world champion (Germany's Robert Harting) and hopefully I will do something good.
'I'm fully focused on competing well. This is a big championship for me, it's the perfect dress rehearsal for the Games. It's going to be fun and interesting to see how I cope so that (qualifying) bodes well for London.'
Team-mates Brett Morse (58.71m) and Abdul Buhari (58.57m) failed to qualify for the final, with Morse strangely claiming he 'actually threw pretty well' despite two fouls.