Congratulations to Lawrence Okoye – British record-breaker

Congratulations to Lawrence Okoye, whose transition from rampaging rugby wing to British Olympic discus thrower took another massive bound yesterday when the Croydon Harrier broke the British senior record for his event, throwing 67.63 metres at a meeting at Barnet Copthall. The throw is also a world age record for a 19-year-old and puts the Waddon youngster third on the 2011 world rankings.

Inside Croydon homed in on Okoye’s vast talent a year ago, with this interview.

Lawrence Okoye in discus action: note the Whitgift School rugby socks!

Okoye has delayed taking up a place at Oxford University to read Law in order to concentrate on his bid to represent Britain at next year’s London Olympics. Yesterday’s effort showed that to be a very shrewd decision.

The pace of Okoye’s emergence in the senior ranks is particularly encouraging – discus throwers then to mature to their peak in their late 20s. But let’s not be too hasty in hanging an Olympic medal around Okoye’s neck just yet (not least because, at 6ft 5in and possibly still growing, it is a long way to reach), but thank him in a couple of important respects for helping to “clean up” the British record books and rankings lists.

In recent years, Britain’s leading male discus thrower has been Carl Myerscough, shamed as a drugs cheat a decade ago, and who only escaped a life ban for two failed tests on a technicality.

Okoye’s record-breaking throw obliterated the 66.64m mark that had been atop the British rankings for 13 years after being set by Perriss Wilkins, another discredited character. As well as serving one two-year suspension for failing a drug test, there had been a swirl of rumour and suspicion about some of Wilkins’ better performances having been achieved at minor meetings, with some even suggesting that he had used underweight implements.

Thus Okoye’s mighty heave yesterday could presage a new era for British field events.

It also sets him up as a clear favourite for next week’s European under-23 championships to be staged in Ostrava, when the John Hillier-trained thrower who is only in his first full year as a discus thrower will come up against several more experienced competitors.

“I felt pretty good warming up, but it was Abdul [Buhari]’s 65-metre throw in the first round that really made the difference,” said Okoye, an Inside Croydon reader.

“I knew that I had a big throw in me, but when I saw it was 67 metres I just went crazy,” he added. “It’s really good for the event to have three guys over the World Championships A standard, especially with 2012 just around the corner.

“The conditions today were fantastic too, but I’m a realist and I know that conditions like those don’t come around every day. For all I know, it could rain next week in Ostrava. Today was pretty special, but it’s all about hitting the big throws in championships.”

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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