Lawrence Okoye: The man who turned his back on rugby (and Oxford) for the discus - Athletics - Olympics - The Independent

Lawrence Okoye: The man who turned his back on rugby (and Oxford) for the discus

 

For most 20-year-olds, being accepted into Oxford University would be something of a life highlight – and an offer to be accepted without so much as a second thought.

Not so for Lawrence Okoye, who is still unsure whether he wants to go to take up his place in Oxford to study law or carry on with an athletics career which is beginning to promise great rewards.

Looking like he was on his way out in the early stages of his appearance at the London 2012 Olympics on Monday evening, a titanic effort saw him qualify for last night's discus final.

His last throw, which soared out to 65.28m, propelled his young career further than most thought it could go when he first took up the sport less than two years ago.

His last-ditch effort and roar of unbridled joy have won the 6ft 6in, 20st former junior rugby player fans among the crowd at the Olympic Stadium on Monday.

But yesterday, his mother Daisy said she was unsure if he would carry on as an equally promising academic career at St Peter's College in Oxford beckons.

She said: "He told me we would talk about it after the Olympics.

"I will support him 100 per cent in whatever decision he takes," she added.

"Once he sets his mind on something, he goes full force. He was very quiet and respectful as a boy, but he was very focused. He is a really sweet boy, he is very kind-hearted."

The former pupil at the leading independent school, Whitgift School in Croydon, south-east London, is the son of a Nigerian businessman.

After he decided to turn his attention from rugby to the discus, the school constructed a £12,000 cage to help him with his training.

Less than two years later, he finds himself the British record holder and the world No 4.

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