American Football: Lawrence Okoye ready for challenge with San Francisco 49ers

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The Independent Online

Olympic discus finalist Lawrence Okoye admits he faces a baptism of fire after signing for the San Francisco 49ers despite having never played a single game of American football.

The 21-year-old, who was 12th in his event at London 2012, was not selected on the final day of the NFL draft but signed with the 49ers, who lost to the Baltimore Ravens in February's Super Bowl, as an undrafted free agent.

Okoye has only once put on a helmet and full pads but has made an unspecified "long-term commitment" to the 49ers, whose coach Jim Harbaugh told the San Francisco Gate: "He's just an Adonis. Just a great physical specimen of a man."

Okoye said: "It's amazing for me, I'm absolutely delighted how things have worked out. The 49ers are the best fit in the league for what I am trying to do. This could be a great success story.

"I watched the Super Bowl and it was amazing to see them come back from such a terrible start and be one play away from winning. I want to be part of the organisation's future success and I think they are building a team that can rival any in the NFC and NFL."

Okoye joins Manchester-born Menelik Watson on the US west coast after Oakland Raiders chose him in round two of the draft, while Crawley-born linebacker Tom Wort joined the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent.

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