Commonwealth GamesSport

Croydon’s Lawrence Okoye claims discus silver at Commonwealth Games

By Max Hall

Croydon’s multi-sport wonder Lawrence Okoye capped a victory lap of the venerable venue – draped in the customary flag of St George – and celebrated silver in the discus with a primal roar of exultation in front of the main stand.

A season punctuated by injuries and stuttering performances finally delivered for the 30-year-old, and he was determined to savour his moment.

“It meant a lot to me, I’ve not had a great year by any means,” said an athlete whose sporting odyssey has included forays into rugby and American football. “

I haven’t reached my potential at all, I’ve left lots of metres out there in all my competitions. Even today, it wasn’t perfect but to perform and get a silver medal in front of a home crowd in the Commonwealth Games, you know, it doesn’t get too much better than that. Gold would’ve been better, obviously, but I’m happy to get silver.”

Referring to his return to the athletics fold after a six-year attempt to break into US sport with six NFL franchises, Okoye said: “Since I’ve come back, I haven’t quite been able to connect in competitions.

“I’ve thrown massive in training, I’ve thrown massive in warm-ups, but I haven’t quite got it in the competition, so today was a great step forward, and hopefully in the Europeans and in the Olympics in 2024, I can unlock my potential.

“I didn’t throw well when it counted in the Olympics, and this year I’ve had a lot of nearly performances, injuries, stuff off the field that has held me back, but it feels great that I was able to produce something today.”

Just as in the qualifying competition on Tuesday, Okoye started the final with a no-throw, hurling the discus into the netting.

“You’ve got to kind of throw it away and come back out,” he said, “and that’s what I’m really proud of. I’m proud that I put in a terrible throw in the first round, and was able to come back in the second round and throw a good throw, a competitive throw. It shows a lot of mental toughness, something I haven’t shown a lot of this year.”

The Croydon ace sat quietly in his seat as his rivals took their turn or wandered in customary fashion in the area allotted next to the circle. When he took his second attempt, it was a 64.97-metre statement of intent that hoisted him into a second position. He never surrendered as he represented the only potential threat to Australian champion Matthew Denny.

“This has been a massive breakthrough for me,” said Okoye. “I’ve had a lot of issues with self-confidence and in my ability and with my approach. I’ve battled myself quite a bit.”

With the 12-man field whittled down to eight after the first three attempts, Okoye’s third effort was another no-throw, but with Denny steadily furthering his distance to an eventual 67.26m, the Croydon man finished any potential resistance in the chasing pack with a 64.99m heave at the fifth time of asking.

With silver already assured by the time he made the contest’s penultimate attempt, Okoye posted another no-throw, but that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm one bit, as his extended celebrations illustrated.

He signed off in Birmingham by pledging: “I still have a lot more to come. I’m nowhere near the finished article.”

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