A massive effort in the final round that saw the disc crash into the throws cage could have been the difference between his ultimate sixth place finish and a medal for Croydon Harrier Lawrence Okoye in the discus final at the world junior championships in Moncton, Canada, last night.
“I’m really upset,” the giant 18-year-old from Waddon said after his first major international championships. “My last throw felt good, but I smashed the cage.”
Conditions for the discus throwers were not easy in the blustery stadium, where on a busy Saturday night’s action, a former ballerina, Sophie Hitchon, had won the women’s hammer for Britain.
Okoye struggled in the early rounds, with a first-round foul and 48.90-metre throw in the second round, meaning that he needed a big effort in the third round just to stay in the competition.
A 58.49m throw was just good enough to keep Okoye in the top eight at the halfway cut, up against more experienced competitors from eastern Europe, Jamaica and the rest of the world.
But even after his best throw of the night, 59.77 in the fourth round, Okoye was dissatisfied with his performance.
“I didn’t connect with any of my throws, which is appalling,” he said. “You can’t come to a major championships and not connect.”
Lithuania’s Andrius Gudzius won the gold medal with a best effort of 63.78m, ahead of the Romanian, Andrei Gag (61.85m), and Julian Wruck (Australia) 61.09m.
For Okoye, who has only been concentrating on discus for three months, following a very busy rugby season with the London Irish Academy and Whitgift School, will now have to quickly consider his options.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “This is what I’m supposed to do, but unfortunately I didn’t achieve my goal.
“It’s made me hungrier and I’ll get these guys again and I’ll show them what I’m made of.”
Okoye may now seek the chance to compete with the senior, 2kg disc, and attempt to throw a qualifying distance for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October, where he could come up against more experienced athletes including Wruck, who has already been named in the Australian team.