Lawrence Okoye has vowed that he will become world champion in one year’s time despite declaring on Tuesday night that he would turn his back on track and field and pursue his other options.
The 20-year-old discus thrower was distraught after finishing 12th in the discus final with a throw of 61.03 metres, way short of his qualifying throw of 65.28 metres that saw him placed fourth entering the final.
After a few days of reflection the former public schoolboy and London Irish rugby academy player, who has had a place at Oxford University to read law deferred by a year, has had a significant change of heart.
Now Okoye, who needs to inform Oxford of his plans and hope to have more time deferred, is convinced his athletic education, rather than his legal education, will be complete in time for next summer’s world athletics championships in Moscow.
“I’ve had time to calm down, sit back and work things out,” admitted Okoye last night. “I now realise that I have a very bright future and that I will be much better for my experience on Tuesday night.
“I have many options I could take, including studying at Oxford or even joining a Premiership rugby club, but there’s no way I could expect to throw the discus at a world-class level and still study as both would be compromised.
“I’m hoping Oxford will continue to be as helpful as they have so far with me but, given a choice, then my track and field career comes first. Oxford will not go away but I only have so much time to crack athletics and, after what happened in the Olympic final, there’s a lot of unfinished business. I am sure I will be the best in the world by next year in time for the world championships. Then we’ll see.”
Okoye accepts that the occasion, performing in front of 80,000 spectators who were largely rooting for him inside the Olympic Stadium, got to him. “I tried too hard, which is why all my technique went out of the window,” he explained. “I was just too eager. Afterwards I was in total shock. I thought I could win a medal, maybe even take gold. I never expected to be dumped out of the final after three throws.
“But I’ve since analysed where I’ve come from, where I’m at and where I’m going. The progression in the past two years from nothing has been remarkable and already I’m throwing long enough distances to win major titles, just not consistently enough.
“Look at the guy who finished fourth in London , Virgilijus Alekna from Lithuania . He’s 40 years old and has competed in hundreds and hundreds of competitions. I’ve competed in less than 40.
“There is still a lot to learn in terms of my technique but I have the fitness and strength and once I’ve improved in my technique and, as a result, my consistency then I’m expecting to be winning titles as early as in 12 months’ time.
“Also I am only 20. If my fitness and form stays with me I could compete in the next three to even five Games if I match what Alekna’s achieved. Time is on my side. It would be crazy and wrong to walk away from something at the very start.
“The London Olympics came a year too early for me. Next year I’ll be ready.”