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Okoye relishing strong competition

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Lawrence Okoye

25 April 2012

After a world-leading throw of 66.67m at the Mt Sacs Relay in California last Friday, 20 year old Lawrence Okoye (coach: John Hillier) is not taking anything for granted as he looks ahead to the Aviva 2012 Trials on 22-24 June.

Okoye said: “It's great to produce that sort of distance at this time of the year; it gives me a great base to build on, with the big competitions coming up over the next few months.  
 
“It's going to take my absolute best to win the Olympic Trials, that's for sure. Training with the guys has shown me what great shape they are all in, and given me that extra bit of motivation to keep working, because if I don't, I will easily be beaten by one of our other top throwers.”

After going over the 60m mark, at three successive meets in America, Okoye wants to maintain his consistency and banish the memories of missing out on the World Championships last year.

Okoye finished fifth at the Aviva World Trials last year, just three weeks after throwing a UK Record of 67.63m - two metres further than the Trials winning throw by Abdul Buhari (Mark Wiseman).

“Last year I wasn't technically ready to produce big performances week-in week-out. We've worked very hard over the winter to ensure that isn't the case this year. So I can guarantee we won't have a repeat of last year.

“I think the competition between us [the British throwers] is working in our favour; constantly pushing us to work harder. It's great to be involved in an event where things aren't easy, that's what top level sport is all about after all.”

Having already secured the Olympic A standard of 65m, Okoye will be guaranteed nomination for the British team if he finishes in the top two at the Aviva 2012 Trials.

Overall, three British throwers have already thrown the “A” standards – Okoye, Buhari and Brett Morse (Vestienn Haffsteinsson) and – so for the first time ever, Team GB could send a full complement of discus throwers to the Olympic Games.

The closest a British discus thrower has come to medal glory was Mark Pharoah at the Olympic Games in 1956. Just 13cm separated Pharoah from a bronze medal in Melbourne, and just 16cm separated Okoye’s personal best and a third placed finish in Beijing four years ago.

Buoyed by his success at the Mt Sacs Relay meet, where he beat former European Champion Robert Fazekas, Okoye aims to go one better than Pharoah and secure a medal at the Olympics this summer. But he knows that given his recent run of form, there is pressure on him to perform,

“I’m ready for the added pressure this year. I am the British record holder, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think if I can produce my best in the Olympic Stadium, then anything can happen,” added Okoye. 

Hot on Okoye’s heels, is Abdul Buhari, the current British Champion who has a PB of 65.44m.

To retain his British title at the Aviva 2012 Trials, and secure a place at this summer’s Olympic Games, Buhari knows he must be at his best, and the 29 year old is in a confident mood having worked hard during the winter.

“The competition at the Aviva 2012 Trials will be tough. Lawrence [Okoye] and Brett [Morse] are both talented throwers and I’m sure we will make it difficult for each other. Having said that, you cannot discount anyone else on the day - Olympic fever usually brings the best out in athletes.

“I’m feeling in good shape at the moment at the USA training camp. It’s the first time l have thrown outside since the World Championships in South Korea so l am feeling good, excited and optimistic about the season ahead.

“I don't feel any more pressure than l did last season. I feel like l have worked hard in the winter and l have improved technically and l know where l want to go this summer.

“Last year, l won the Trials, but this year none of that matters. It’s a new season with new goals and hopefully new successes, with my main aim securing a place on the Olympic team.” 

The men’s discus is scheduled for Sunday 24 June, and joining Okoye and Buhari will be current British number two, Brett Morse, Carl Myerscough (self-coached); and 20 year old Zane Duquemin (John Hillier).

Back the team and watch over 750 of Britain’s best athletes in action at the Aviva 2012 Trials at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium from 22nd-24th June. For tickets visit www.uka.org.uk/aviva-series or call 08000 55 60 56.